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Prenuptial agreements can be helpful for those entering marriage

Many individuals considering marriage may wonder if they should draft and sign a prenuptial agreement. Prenuptial agreements should be talked about and evaluated between partners considering marriage. Prenuptial agreements protect both parties entering a marriage from disputes, if they divorce and in tragic situations such as death.

While there are a number of misunderstandings concerning prenuptial agreements, they can create equality among the partners and a shared understanding entering a marriage. It is a misconception that prenuptial agreements are only for wealthy individuals entering a marriage. Prenuptial agreements have many important uses, one of which is the protection of wealth and the assets of either partner. Prenuptial agreements can also provide protections against the debts of the other partner.

Prenuptial agreements can be especially helpful for individuals who are remarrying and can ensure that assets are distributed how the partner wishes, especially in circumstances when the partner may have children from a previous marriage. Prenuptial agreements can also provide protections for a partner entering a marriage that has a business.

When drafting a prenuptial agreement, it is important to know what to include, what the partners want to include and what can be included in a prenuptial agreement. Anything illegal or unconscionable cannot be included in a prenuptial agreement. Provisions related to any children from the marriage may also not be included. Prenuptial agreements should include how assets should be distributed upon divorce, how premarital debts should be handled, how property should be characterized (separate or community property) and spousal support issues.

It is also important that legal requirements are met for a valid prenuptial agreement. In general, in Texas, a prenuptial agreement will be considered valid if the parties to the agreement had independent counsel when drafting and negotiating the prenuptial agreement; the parties were aware of their rights regarding property division according to Texas law; the prenuptial agreement was freely and voluntarily entered into; and each of the parties to the agreement is aware of the income, assets and debts of the other.

Although prenuptial agreements can sometimes be a sensitive topic, it is important to discuss the benefits of a prenuptial agreement up front. Having an open conversation concerning a prenuptial agreement can be healthy for the couple legally speaking, as well as healthy for the impending marriage.

Source: Austin Man Magazine, "DO YOU NEED A PRENUP?" John A. Hay III, Accessed Dec. 29, 2015

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