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Proposal to make prenups unalterable rejected

Couples who entered into prenuptial agreements in the past were sometimes criticized for putting the divorce cart before the marriage horse. While the divorce rate continues to hover around 50 percent, some who are getting married or considering remarriage may feel differently.

Many legal advisors claim that the use of a prenuptial agreement is a realistic method to protect personal assets. Judges in divorce court, however, sometimes nullify prenuptial agreements under certain conditions. A prenup may be considered unfair and invalid if one party is persuaded to sign it by force or if one partner hides financial information.

In the opinion of one state representative, prenuptial agreements should be inflexible in court. That idea may not become reality any time soon, as a bill proposing that all prenups should be unalterable failed to rise beyond a committee debate. The argument used to prevent judges from "stretching" the limits of a prenuptial contract was that some wealthy spouses were victimized by a spouse who was out for their money when agreement alterations were allowed.

Members of the committee considering the bill questioned the logic of the lawmaker, saying that the bill would make it easier for one spouse to victimize the other.

Under the lock-tight proposal, a partner's undisclosed assets or debt could surface without consequences after a prenuptial agreement was signed. Some committee members felt the legislation would serve an opposite purpose, by encouraging spouses to hide assets.

Sensing that his legislation was sinking in committee, the lawmaker offered to amend the proposal to include penalties against spouses who disguised finances.

However, that idea went over no better with the committee than the one before it. One committee member likened the amendment to putting "lipstick on a pig" and said nothing could be done to make the bill "viable."

While this discussion is not taking place in Texas, it is one that many in Texas may be able to relate to. A prenuptial agreement can be a good way to protect assets in case of a divorce, but it is important for signing parties to know that it is not always upheld in court.

Source: The Cap Times, "Crime and Courts: Bill to make prenups ironclad shocks Democrats," Steven Elbow, Oct. 17, 2011

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