Originally published by Family and Criminal Law Blog.
Essentially, a prenuptial agreement is a legal contract between two people who are planning to get married. While there are those who have an adverse reaction to the mention of a prenuptial agreement and think of it as, not a preparation for marriage but preparation for divorce, a prenuptial agreement can set and manage expectations for marriage. It can also bring peace of mind to the parties to the agreement knowing that certain assets will be protected in the event of divorce or, should divorce occur, they will already know how certain things will play out. Of course, the full extent of what can be accomplished by a prenuptial agreement will largely depend on what the parties choose to include in the agreement itself.
What Can You Include in Your Prenuptial Agreement?
One of the best, and most popular, uses of a prenuptial agreement is to address the issue of marital property and how it will be distributed in the event of divorce. In this case, the prenuptial agreement should specify the assets and liabilities that each party are bringing into the marriage. It should then set forth the property rights of each throughout the marriage and what will happen to property rights, should the parties ever divorce. The agreement can accomplish this by distinguishing what property will always be considered separate property and which property will be considered marital or communal property. In divorce, marital property is subject to division between the parties.
A prenuptial agreement can also be used to manage financial expectations for a couple during the marriage. The agreement can set forth future financial goals and how these goals will be accomplished by certain investment strategies, among other things. The agreement should also address if, and how much, income should be paid into any joint or separate bank accounts. If there will be spending allowances distributed to a party, this should be included as well. The agreement can also include budgetary restrictions. For example, it can specify the way household expenses will be managed, who will pay which bills, and how much each party will financially contribute in general to the payment of household expenses.
A prenuptial agreement can also set forth financial expectations for the parties should the marriage end in divorce. The agreement can establish the fact that one spouse will not be liable for certain debts of the other spouse should the two divorce. This will protect the spouse from assuming financial liability for debts of the other party. Additionally, the prenuptial agreement can establish whether or not alimony, or spousal support, will be paid in the event of divorce. The agreement can also state how much alimony will be paid. It is important to note, however, that a court will not enforce an agreement that it determines to be punitive or will leave one spouse without any financial resources.
A prenuptial agreement can also work to protect inheritance rights. For instance, if you have children from a previous marriage, the prenuptial agreement can make sure that these children still have property rights. It can help ensure that they will still inherit a portion or all of your property as outlined by the prenuptial agreement.
Helping Set You Up for a Successful Marriage
While many view a prenuptial agreement as a plan for divorce, it can actually be of great help in working to help a marriage succeed. Setting forth and managing expectations of a marriage is a great way to start off the marital journey. For all of your prenuptial agreement help, Navarrete & Schwartz, P.C. is here for our clients. We are proud to serve the residents of Midland, Texas. Contact us today.