Premarital agreements or “prenups” are the most well-known and accepted marital agreements in Texas. People with a high net worth who plan to marry frequently attempt to keep their assets protected if the relationship ends in divorce. There are other contractual agreements, including post-marital agreements and cohabitation agreements, that are also good options for some couples, including in the event of a cohabitation agreement.
For those concerned about the possibility of divorce down the road, a premarital agreement is a reasonable precaution to take. When a person marries, often his or her separate property comingles with property considered community property. This comingling can create major complications in the event of divorce.
Under the Texas Family Code, all community property is subject to division in a divorce. All property possessed by either spouse is presumed to be community property upon divorce, unless it is proven to be separate property by clear and convincing evidence. A premarital agreement allows a person who is about to marry to preserve and protect his or her separate property estate by predetermining the characterization of property or income at the time of divorce or death.
Prenups are most popular among people who enter into the marriage with a high net worth. Often these assets are not easily divisible, such as an interest in a family-owned business or a large tract of real estate. Though most premarital agreements are primarily geared toward simplifying what could end up being a complex property issue in a divorce, they also can be used to set boundaries around many other issues in a marriage.
Premarital agreements can involve:
- Wills and trusts
- Rights to control property during the marriage
- Dividing retirement and employee benefits
- Homestead rights
- Personal behavior
- Penalties for adultery
Aubrey Connatser has written hundreds of marital agreements and recognizes that each client has a unique set of circumstances that require her attention in drafting premarital agreements.
Sometimes an agreement that divides the marital property of people who are already married can be a good way to preserve and protect assets and reach agreements concerning financial issues. These can ease marital stress and sometimes resolve issues to avoid a divorce or divide assets to avoid a dispute about asset division in the event of a divorce. A post-marital agreement or partition agreement may protect one spouse’s assets from the other’s debts or protect assets from the risk associated with a spouse’s business venture.
Many times, couples who intend to live together want to avoid the allegation that they were informally married, otherwise known as common law married. To avoid that risk, couples can enter into cohabitation agreements that set out their marital status and clarify any financial arrangements or commitments during cohabitation.
If you would like to explore this avenue of protecting your rights, attorneys of the Connatser family law firm can assess your situation and determine if a marital agreement would be appropriate for your unique situation.