Marriage planning should not be limited to the wedding ceremony. A prenuptial agreement can begin conversations on finances, an important issue which will constantly come up in their marriage. Prenups also serve as insurance in the unwanted situation of asset division in a divorce.
Engaged couples should disclose their assets and debts and discuss their financial objectives, daily spending and priorities. They should also decide whether they will establish joint bank accounts or keep their finances separate.
But separate accounts or joint ownership of assets, such as a house, does not assure that a spouse can keep this property. In community property states like Texas, both spouses are responsible for any debt such as credit card balances and medical bills acquired during marriage.
Prenuptial agreements can help allocate assets and debt if there is ever a divorce. These are even more important if there are children from an earlier marriage or if a spouse received an inheritance.
Discussing property division before marriage, while certainly unromantic, is preferable to haggling over these issues when the marriage is splitting up and the spouses are under emotional distress. But these conversations should occur well before the wedding date.
Under the best circumstances, drafting and executing a prenuptial agreement should take at least six months. Rushing into a prenuptial agreement, especially close to the wedding date, may raise questions about its legal validity and whether a spouse signed it under duress.
Married couples who never entered a prenup may explore discussing and entering a postnuptial agreement. Like prenuptial agreements, these are contracts which takes into consideration each spouses’ debts and assets and how these will be divided if there is ever a divorce.
Each spouse should have their own attorney advise them and help them negotiate and draft the prenup. Pre-drafted or online forms may not stand up in Texas courts or meet the couple’s needs. Each spouse should carefully review and understand these contracts and make any changes that are needed.
Attorneys can help facilitate and negotiate a fair and reasonable agreement. They can also help assure that these documents meet Texas legal requirements.