Most of us are familiar with prenuptial agreements (or prenups). We have all seen the movies where one wealthy partner wants the other to sign a prenup to protect their assets. Actors such as Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie had a prenuptial agreement. But the founder of Amazon, Jeff Bezos, and his wife, Mackenzie Bezos, did not. There are many reasons why celebrities do and do not have prenups and even postnuptial agreements.
However, prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements (or postnups) are not only for the rich and famous. There are solid reasons why you may need one. Before you decide, you’ll want to understand the difference between prenuptial and postnuptial agreements in Texas and what they include.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
According to Cornell Law School and the Legal Information Institute, the legal definition of a prenuptial agreement is “… a contract entered into before marriage setting the terms for separation.”. But what does that really mean? Basically, a prenuptial agreement in Texas defines each spouse’s property and financial rights if the marriage ends in a divorce. This often includes money, assets brought with each person into the marriage, and even family businesses.
In the past, prenups seemed selfish or protected only one spouse. Not anymore; prenups are becoming more commonly accepted and widely used before marriages. Older couples with previous marriages often bring assets that they want to keep in the family. It is also a way to make sure children from prior marriages will not lose family heirlooms in a divorce.
A prenuptial agreement will also protect you against your partner’s debt. It separates their past bills from yours. But you are still responsible for the debt you built together during your marriage.
There are limitations to a prenuptial agreement. Here are some situations that a prenup cannot include:
- Personal matters – a prenup cannot decide who does what chores, where to spend the holidays or other personal decisions.
- Decisions regarding child custody or support
- Waiving the right to alimony
- Including anything illegal
Your prenuptial agreement must be in writing and signed. Because of this, the courts will not uphold a verbal prenup. It is wise for each partner to seek their own Texas divorce attorney to write the prenuptial agreements.
What is a Postnuptial Agreement?
A postnuptial agreement in Texas is similar to a prenuptial agreement. But it is written and signed after you are already married. Your circumstances may change during your marriage, and you may now want a postnup. You may ask why someone would want a postnup.
Let’s say you inherited a lot of money or assets and may want to keep that within your family or you build a business without the help of your spouse. A postnup can make sure that you don’t lose it to them if you get divorced. Perhaps the honeymoon phase has worn off, and you realize you should have asked for a prenup. It’s not too late to get a postnup.
As with a prenuptial agreement, you will need expert advice from a trusted divorce attorney in Texas. They will help write a postnuptial agreement that will protect you.
Prenuptial Agreements and Postnuptial Agreements
Having a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement does not mean you expect your marriage to end. Instead, it is a logical agreement to keep the assets you brought to the marriage.
A prenup or postnup will:
- protect your assets
- protect assets for your children
- protect you against debt
- clarify your financial rights if the marriage ends
- avoid long and costly disputes in case of a divorce
Prenups and postnups are actually similar. They are both legal agreements that establish each spouse’s assets, debts and financial rights in case of a divorce. The difference is when they are signed. A prenuptial agreement is signed before your wedding. While the postnuptial agreement is signed after you are married.
It can be hard to start the conversation, but a prenup or postnup may be in your best interest. Talking with a divorce attorney in Texas will help protect your assets.