Setting aside the portrayal of premarital agreements in the movies, there are very pragmatic reasons to use a premarital agreement. In cases where a spouse is marrying and has children and assets from a prior marriage, preserving the property for the benefit of the named children, is possible with premarital agreements.
When I fall in love and start planning weddings, the last thing we want to imagine is our marriage ending in divorce or otherwise. we have all seen those movies where parents of young couples ask if they would consider signing a premarital agreement. While many people are initially shocked and upset at the idea, given more consideration, it can be a smart move, with which couples may agree. Hollywood does a fine job portraying the use of premarital agreements and vicious people who use them as leverage against their spouse. In the movie,
Intolerable Cruelty, Billy Bob Thornton’s character actually eats the premarital agreement during his wedding ceremony, in a show of love, leaving himself “exposed.”
In reality, which can be as interesting in fiction, few people actually get married and sign a premarital agreement in contemplation of divorce, or with the intent to somehow profit in connection with a premarital agreement. For many, a reality is the concern for protecting property, assets and family interests in a second or other marriage.
Texas Family Law and the Uniform Premarital Act
In Texas, the Family Code includes the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, which defines and lists formalities required, the content of an agreement and how the agreement may be enforced, amended and revoked
. Texas law requires a premarital agreement to be in writing and signed by both parties. The agreement becomes effective at the time the parties are married.
As well as there is significant information published about the creation of a premarital agreement, much attention is paid to challenging the enforcement of premarital agreements. Full disclosure of all assets, liabilities and known conditions that could be the subject of dispute is important when preparing a premarital agreement, and experienced family law attorneys should be employed to prepare the premarital agreement. In many cases, both parties to the marriage are represented by independent attorneys to ensure the agreement is valid, enforceable and that the couple fully understand the terms of the agreement, should it ever need to be enforced.
Subject matter that can be included in a Texas premarital agreement
Before stating what terms may be included in a premarital agreement, note that the right to receive child support may not be adversely affected by the premarital agreement. You may however, chose to provide more than what is required by Family Code by way of child support, should you wish to do so.
Section 4.003 of the Texas Family Code provides for the content that may be included in a marital agreement as follows:
“(1) the rights and obligations of each of the parties in any of the property of either or both of them whenever and wherever acquired or located;
(2) the right to buy, sell, use, transfer, exchange, abandon, lease, consume, expend, assign, create a security interest in, mortgage, encumber, dispose of, or otherwise manage and control property;
(3) the disposition of property on separation, marital dissolution, death, or the occurrence or nonoccurrence of any other event;
(4) the modification or elimination of spousal support;
(5) the making of a will, trust, or other arrangement to carry out the provisions of the agreement;
(6) the ownership rights in and disposition of the death benefit from a life insurance policy;
(7) the choice of law governing the construction of the agreement; and
(8) any other matter, including their personal rights and obligations, not in violation of public policy or a statute imposing a criminal penalty.
Pragmatic reasons to obtain a premarital agreement
A new to-be-married couple, especially if the marriage is a second or other marriage, may wish to identify certain property as community property or otherwise agree the property should be retained as separate property, not to be included for division in the community estate in the event of a divorce.
In cases where a spouse is marrying and has children and assets from a prior marriage, preserving the property for the benefit of the named children, is possible with premarital agreements.
Interest in a closely held business, especially a family-owned business, may be another reason to use a premarital agreement, to isolate the business interests of one spouse so as to not disrupt that business in the event of a divorce.
To learn more about premarital agreements or if you need experienced family law counsel, or are asked to sign a premarital agreement, the board certified family law attorneys at Scroggins Law Group, can answer all your questions as you prepare for marriage.
Dallas, Denton and Collin County Board Certified
divorce and family law attorney,
Mark Scroggins , along with their team at
Scroggins Law Group represent clients in a variety of divorce and family law matters including premarital agreements.
At Scroggins Law Group, our Dallas, Denton and Collin County divorce attorneys have more than over 24 years of collective experience with family law cases. When you retain our firm, you can trust that your case is in the hands of a highly skilled, dedicated professional. we understand the unique challenges of a high value divorce case, and more importantly, have the knowledge and experience you need on your side. Call us today, (214) 469-3100, to learn more about Texas divorce and family law.
Texas Family Code, Section 4.001, et. Seq.
Uniform Premarital Act.
Texas Family Code, Section 4.003,
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*Mark L. Scroggins is *board-certified in family law by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization. Unless otherwise noted, other attorneys are not *board-certified.
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