Just saying the word “prenupt” elicits a cringe from my clients. To a certain extent I think they see a bride in a limo outside of the church with a stuffy old man shoving paperwork in her face telling her if she doesn’t sign, there will be no wedding. First of all, that “paperwork” would never stand up in a court. When a couple enters into a prenuptial agreement, both parties are advised to have his or her own lawyer look at the paperwork and explain it – this prevents any accusations of duress.
Once we get past the Hollywood interpretation of a prenuptial agreement and I start asking questions – it usually becomes far less scary and far more reasonable to consider having one. Most people have this idea in their head that a prenuptial agreement means that you are planning for a divorce. And to a certain extent, that is true. But it is also a plan for what you are going to do in the future with your money, your house and your belongings. In fact, Texas likes prenuptial agreements so much- it even recognizes Post-Nuptial Agreements – agreements and plans that spouses make after they are married. So if you don’t have a prenuptial agreement and you are already married, you can still put one in place.
A prenuptial agreement is a plan. When two households come together in a marriage – you make agreements and compromises all the time. Who is paying the light bill? Who buys groceries? How are we going to pay the mortgage? Which house are we going to live in? The list goes on and on… so why not have it in writing? Then everyone knows what his or her responsibility is in the marriage. Talk about setting up a strong foundation – if you are communicating this effectively now, the likelihood that your prenuptial agreement is ever used in Court is minimized. In fact, of the prenuptial agreements that I have done in the course of my practice, I have only ever had one that has come to a divorce.
You can also plan for death in a prenuptial agreement. You can decide whether you want to gift certain separate property to your spouse, you can manage your estate for children that may not be from this union…
The possibilities are too numerous and too great to explain in detail here. If you have questions about either a prenuptial agreement or a post nuptial agreement, please call us.