We ran across a fascinating article in the New Yorker recently about prenups. The prenuptial agreement, also known as a premarital agreement in Texas, allows for a couple getting married to make arrangements for how money and other assets are split in the event that couple later gets divorced. With Texas being a community property state, dividing assets can be a tricky and contentious part of divorce, and a prenup can eliminate a lot of the conflict that comes in divorce.
The article notes that at least one famous rich couple didn’t have one — observing, “When the public learned, in 2019, that Jeff Bezos, then the world’s richest person, didn’t have a prenup with his then wife, MacKenzie Scott, it prompted a minor uproar.” Of course, Bezos and Scott went on to divorce, and the settlement has allowed Scott to continue her impressive philanthropy efforts as one of the highest-profile people to sign on to the Giving Pledge.
But as the article argued, prenups aren’t just for wealthy people. Cary Mogerman, the president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, remarked, “I think, more and more, what I would call ordinary people are interested in the tidiness and the finality that they perceive they might have if they have a prenuptial agreement.”
The article noted that while not every couple enters a marriage with a prenup, more couples are getting them these days, and more are seeing the value in getting them.
Should you and your partner decide to get a prenup in Texas, the Texas Family Code lays out what you need to do, referring to it as a premarital agreement. It can cover the following.
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;
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;
the disposition of property on separation, marital dissolution, death, or the occurrence or nonoccurrence of any other event;
the modification or elimination of spousal support;
the making of a will, trust, or other arrangement to carry out the provisions of the agreement;
the ownership rights in and disposition of the death benefit from a life insurance policy;
the choice of law governing the construction of the agreement; and
any other matter, including their personal rights and obligations, not in violation of public policy or a statute imposing a criminal penalty.
However, there’s one important stipulation: “The right of a child to support may not be adversely affected by a premarital agreement.”
To make sure it’s enforceable, it needs to be in writing, involve a fair and reasonable disclosure of assets from both parties, and be entered into voluntarily. While couples can craft a prenup on their own — and there’s even an online site we won’t link to that helps you build your own — it’s definitely advisable to not only involve a lawyer well-versed in Texas family law to craft a prenup that would hold up in a Texas court, but to have a lawyer for each party signing the prenup. That way, you’re making sure — as much as you love and trust the person you’re marrying — that the premarital agreement protects you and your assets should your marriage end in divorce.
The ideal situation is for you and your partner to not ever need to activate your prenup as you live happily ever after as a married couple. And yet, having the premarital agreement will give you peace of mind even if you don’t ever use it. At the Law Office of Lisa A. Vance, we can guide you on what your premarital agreement should include, and we’ll make sure it keeps you and your assets safe in case you get divorced. In an initial consultation, we can clear up any questions you might have about it and get you on the road to getting it done.