Prenuptial agreements are a great way to establish expectations and responsibilities in a marriage and to keep certain property separate, simplifying matters if a marriage does not last. Unfortunately, enjoying the protections that a prenuptial agreement offers usually means locking in the terms of the agreement before the marriage even begins, which can prove difficult to navigate.
A prenuptial agreement is something every couple should consider as they approach their wedding day. A carefully worded prenup can offer a great deal of relief to spouses who use it correctly, protecting one from the other's debts or outlining each person's expectations within the marriage. However, some prenups include terms that the law does not support or does not allow -- such as terms surrounding child custody.
For many generations, prenuptial agreements carried a certain stigma in the public's view, often seeming like the kind of thing that old, rich families used to keep their wealth protected in case a son or daughter married someone without means of their own. While this is true to an extent, prenups are not only for the rich and powerful. They are also useful for any couple that marries, even if they never divorce.
Often, when couples come to an attorney to set up a prenuptial agreement, one or both partners have strong misgivings. This is understandable, especially considering the negative stigma that prenups have among some parts of the population. One of the most common concerns that couples have about creating a prenup is that it "encourages divorce" or otherwise weakens their relationship.
Here in Texas, prenuptial agreements are particularly important to consider prior to marriage. Unlike most other states, Texas uses community property guidelines when it comes to property division in divorce, meaning that any property each party does not preclude as separate property through a prenuptial agreement automatically converts to marital property. Should a couple divorce, they must split all the marital property equally.
With a wedding on the horizon, a prenuptial agreement may seem like a distant priority or may even seem distasteful to consider for many couples. These are normal things to feel as you prepare to share the rest of your life with someone, but they are still misguided perspectives that may cost you dearly in the future, even if you never divorce.
Prenuptial agreement are an essential part of many marriages, and should certainly be used much more frequently than they are. Considering the number of marriages that do ultimately end in divorce, it is no small wonder than more couples do not choose to protect each other and themselves with a thoughtful and well-planned prenuptial agreement.
Many young couples approaching their first marriage often assume that it is unnecessary to consider a prenuptial agreement. After all, they will surely stay together, and they don't have many assets right now, so why even bother? Creating a prenuptial agreement may offer important protections to the rich or to those who want to remarry later in life, but isn't it a little overboard for a young couple with few assets?
Any couple can usually find some benefit in a prenuptial agreement, excepting those who create faulty agreements based on poor understandings of the law. While prenuptial agreements offer potential spouses many important protections, these agreements acknowledge very strict limits to what they can and cannot govern during a divorce.
Prenuptial agreements are one of the most under-appreciated, under-utilized legal tools that couples have have available today. When used correctly, these agreements relieve many of tensions that threaten to destroy marriages and strengthen them for the long haul. Unfortunately, their negative reputation arises out of the ways that some people may attempt to use them unfairly. One particular area of family law that prenuptial agreements generally do not include is child custody terms.