What Is a Prenuptial Agreement?
What is a prenuptial agreement? Who drafts the document? How do you get your partner to agree to one?
When the idea of a “prenup” comes up, it often makes people uncomfortable. It’s a hard question to ask your partner, even with the best intentions. Moreover, it’s not easy to know when you need one.
Luckily, our family law attorneys are ready to help you understand what a prenuptial agreement is and everything you need to know about it.
What Is a Prenup?
A prenuptial agreement, or “prenup,” is a contract between two people signed before they marry. Typically, the document lists the property, assets, and debts owned by each person. Then, it specifies each person’s rights to the property in the event the marriage ends.
Some states refer to this agreement as a premarital agreement or an antenuptial agreement. Additionally, some people use the word contract instead. Regardless, they all cover the same concept.
Who Needs a Prenuptial Contract?
Contrary to what you might believe, these agreements are not solely for wealthy couples. Oftentimes, people use them to protect a wealthy fiancé’s assets. However, any couple can use them for their own purposes.
Here are a few common reasons people opt for a prenuptial agreement.
Pass Assets from Prior Marriages to Children
When a marrying couple has children from a past marriage, they can use this agreement to define what happens to their property when they die. This allows them to pass on separate property to their children while still providing for one another.
Without a prenup, the surviving spouse might have the right to claim a larger portion of those assets. This can leave the children without much.
Avoid Arguments in the Event of a Divorce
Should the couple ever divorce, a prenuptial contract allows them to specify the allocation of property in advance. Moreover, they can determine whether anyone receives alimony. However, it’s important to discuss this with your attorney because some states don’t allow this.
Make Financial Rights Clear
Wealthy or modest, with or without children, sometimes the best route is to clarify financial responsibilities and rights before the marriage.
Protection from Debts
Additionally, a prenuptial contract can protect spouses from the other’s debts. Moreover, there’s room for an array of other issues in these documents.
What Happens If You Don’t Sign a Prenup?
When you don’t draft a prenuptial agreement, Texas law determines who owns what property acquired during the marriage. Additionally, this comes into play in the event of death or divorce.
State law may also determine what happens to some of the property you owned prior to the marriage. Under Texas law, marriage is a contract between the couple. As such, that contract comes with property rights for both spouses.
For instance, without a prenup to state otherwise, a spouse has the right to the following.
- Debts incurred during the marriage that the other spouse might be responsible for
- Shared ownership of assets acquired throughout the marriage and the expectation that it is divided equally in death or divorce
- Rights to manage or control marital property, including the right to donate or sell it
If these matters are something that concerns you, it might be a good idea to draft a prenup. In your contract, you have the power to decide as a couple how to handle your property and assets.
How to Talk to Your Partner About a Prenuptial Agreement
What happens to your assets and finances in the future is something many couples wonder about and discuss leading up to a marriage. With a prenuptial contract, you have a way to address any concerns about individual property.
However, it’s important to know how to discuss this with your partner. Before you start planning your marriage, it’s a good idea to mention a prenup. It’s important that the decision never feel sudden or thrust upon your partner.
A sudden request can impede crucial conversations about what each spouse wants to include in the document. Typically, people also feel more stress as the wedding day approaches. With that in mind, it’s a good idea to start the discussion early.
Remain calm and honest throughout the discussion, and you should be able to plan your future together.
Oftentimes, people think of a prenup as a sign of an impending divorce. This thinking makes it difficult to discuss the agreement in any way. Instead of ignoring this part of the conversation, speak to your reasons behind the decision.
For instance, if you both own part of a business, a prenuptial agreement can help to secure the future of the business in the event of a worst-case scenario.
Draft It Together
Work together as you pinpoint the topics you want to address in your agreement. No one wants to have a full prenup thrown at them. That can make your spouse suspicious of your intentions.
Take the time to write things out and discuss each aspect you want to include. This helps ensure everyone feels good about the end result.
Work with a Family Attorney
When you think a prenuptial agreement is a good idea, contact a family attorney with the experience and expertise to draft a solid document. Your attorney can help ensure you cover everything each spouse wants to address in a document that holds up.
To learn more about your options, schedule a free consultation with the family law experts at Universal Law Group.