Currently, the United States has a divorce rate of 45%, meaning that a little less than half of marriages end for various reasons. Due to the country’s high divorce rate, many couples have turned to pre-marital agreements as a recommended preventative measure. A comprehensive pre-martial agreement could save a divorcing couple thousands of dollars in attorney’s fees, provide added protection for expensive assets, and significantly decreases the stress of divorce.
While no one wants to consider divorce when thinking about their marriage, it’s important to take into account the consequences of dissolution without an agreement. Without an agreement, the couple must resolve various issues to finalize the divorce including property division, debt allocation, among other important matters. Compromise may be reached either through attorney negotiations, alternative dispute resolution, or through the courts themselves. No matter the avenue, the divorce process is a lot more expensive, time-consuming, and stressful without a pre-marital agreement, cohabitation agreement, or pre-nuptial agreement.
A pre-martial agreement doesn’t just protect wealth, but it can also safeguard an individual entering a marriage with someone who has a lot of debt. To learn about pre-martial agreements and their various benefits, reach out to the legal team at Horak Law.
Houston Pre-Marital Agreement Lawyer | Harris County, TX
For most couples, planning for a pending divorce is the last thing on their mind. However, a pre-marital agreement could be incredibly useful in the future if dissolution becomes a possibility. In addition, many couples find their relationship is even more secure after they’ve filed a pre-martial agreement. With the documents filed, many couples experience they never have to fear feeling of being ‘tied down” in their marriage due to the agreement. It ensures that both parties are there because they wish to be and not due to financial/property ties.
Learn more about pre-martial agreements and if they’re right for you by calling our office at (713) 225-8000. Horak Law has several locations in both Houston and The Woodlands, but accepts clients throughout the State of Texas including Brazoria County, Galveston County, Montgomery County, Liberty County, Fort Bend County, Harris County, and Waller County.
- Different Types of Pre-Marital Agreements
- Why You May Need a Pre-Marital Agreement
- Limits of a Pre-Marital Agreement in Texas
- Additional Resources
Different Types of Pre-Martial Agreements
The State of Texas provides citizens with two options when it comes to pre-martial agreements. Prenuptial agreements (often referred to as a prenup) are written prior to the marriage is finalized while a post-nuptial agreement occurs after nuptials have already taken place. In some cases, a post-nuptial agreement is filed to serve as a modification of the original prenuptial agreement filed previously. Listed below are some important issues a prenuptial and postnuptial agreement may address.
- Rights to manage and control property and/or assets
- Spousal support
- Obligations and rights to any shared property
- How to divide property in case of death, divorce, annulment, etc.
- Wills or trusts within the agreement
- What the spouse’s rights are in a life insurance policy
In order to appear legitimate, pre-martial agreements must be accepted by the court during a divorce settlement. This can be accomplished with the help of a Houston pre-martial agreement lawyer who can draft a comprehensive agreement for you and your spouse whilst ensuring it meets the following guidelines.
- The pre-martial agreement is in writing
- It’s been signed by both parties voluntarily
- Both spouses have fully disclosed their assets, interests, property, and financial obligations
- The agreement has reasonable terms and both parties have agreed to it
- The document has been notarized when signed
Why You May Need a Pre-Marital Agreement?
Couples file pre-marital agreement for various reasons. It may serve as added protection in the event of death, divorce, annulment, etc., and ultimately save the couple thousands of dollars in legal fees. Other couples use the agreement as a way to create a financial mission statement. It can act as a blueprint for you and your partner’s financial future, and it can even protect your spouse from any debt you may have acquired prior to the marriage.
- Open Communication – Planning for a possible divorce may feel like a romance killer, but it’s incredibly important both spouses are open about their property, debt, finances, and expectations prior to the wedding. With a filed pre-martial agreement, both spouses have a full understanding of who they are marrying, and it can create a deep level of trust that will ultimately strengthen your marriage over time.
- Protection for Separate Property – One of the most stressful components to dissolution is asset division. You and your spouse can identify separate and community property and how it should be divided in the event of divorce within your pre-marital agreement.
- No Legal Fees or Court Dates – The process of divorce can be extremely arduous, time-consuming, and depending on the situation—expensive. Legal and court fees can easily stack up if you and your spouse ever decide to end the marriage. There’s a reason why so many divorced people end up filing bankruptcy and losing a huge chunk of their income. However, if you have a pre-martial agreement you can avoid these hurdles and already have answers for questions like property division and spousal support. Instead of being in court for months, or even years—the resolution will be quick and both you and your ex-spouse can avoid costly legal fees.
- Protection from Debt – In some cases, couples will file a pre-marital agreement so they can protect one spouse from debt accumulated by the other. The agreement will establish who is liable for the debt in the event of a divorce. Without an agreement, the other spouse may also be liable for their ex-partner’s debt even if it was acquired prior to the marriage.
Limits of a Pre-Marital Agreement in Texas
Pre-marital agreements are extremely useful when it comes to asset protection and ensuring all finances, property, etc. from both parties are disclosed. Despite this, pre-martial agreements are limited in what they can do in the State of Texas. Listed below are some aspects of divorce or dissolution that a pre-martial agreement cannot replace.
- Personal matters unrelated to the couple’s finances
- Determination for child support or child custody
- Waive a spouse’s rights to pension benefits (although some exceptions do apply)
- Include any issue with the spouse involved in criminal activity or public policy
- Pre-marital agreements cannot be modified unless a new post-nuptial agreement is filed and therefore serves as a modification
Pre-nuptial & Postnuptial Agreements | Texas Family Code – Visit the official website for Texas’s Statutes to learn more about the section of the Family Code that governs postnuptial agreements and pre-nuptial agreements. Learn more about the limitations of the agreement, how it’s enforced, and the differences between the two.
Divorce Statistics in the U.S. | CDC– Visit the official website for The Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), which provides an overview of the divorce rates happening in the U.S. according to each state. Though not every couple will fall into one of these statistics, pre-marital agreements are advisable as a preventable measure.
Pre-Nuptial and Post-Nuptial Lawyer, Houston TX | Horak Law
If you’re interested in drafting and filing a pre-martial agreement, consult with Horak Law. Filing a pre-marital agreement is by no means an omen of a pending divorce. They act as added asset and wealth protection for your marriage, and for many couples the agreement simply strengthens their connection. Learn more about pre-marital agreements and if they are right for your relationship by calling our office at (713) 225-8000 or submitting an online contact form to speak to qualified family law attorney Matthew Horak.