Not all that long ago, prenuptial agreements (also referred to as premarital agreements) were used almost exclusively by wealthy men trying to protect themselves from financial ruin at the hands of a potentially “gold-digging” bride. In the 21st century, however, the request to execute a prenuptial agreement is just as likely to be initiated by a woman as by a man. Although prenuptial agreements no longer have the same negative connotation they once had, it is still not uncommon for one party to a prenuptial agreement to have the upper hand when drafting the agreement. If that’s what happened in your case, where does that leave you in a divorce? Dallas divorce lawyer Rita M. Boyd explains how a prenuptial agreement will affect your divorce.
What Is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is a contract between two parties in anticipation of marriage. In the State of Texas, the Texas Family Code Section 4.001 et seq. governs prenuptial agreements. The parties to a prenuptial agreement in Texas may contract to any of the following within a prenuptial agreement:
- 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.
- Any other matter, including their personal rights and obligations, not in violation of public policy or a statute imposing a criminal penalty.
Notice that issues involving any minor children of the marriage cannot be part of a prenuptial agreement because all issues (including conservatorship and child support) involving minor children must be decided using the “best interest of the child” standard.
Am I Bound by the Terms of a Prenuptial Agreement?
If you signed a prenuptial agreement prior to your marriage, and now want to end your marriage, that prenuptial agreement will definitely be an issue in the divorce. If a court finds that the agreement is valid, you will be bound by those terms in the divorce. It is possible to nullify a prenuptial agreement; however, it is far from a simple thing to accomplish. To nullify a prenuptial agreement, you will likely need to prove one (or more) of the following:
- The agreement was not entered into voluntarily.
- The agreement was unconscionable at the time you signed it.
- You were not provided a fair and reasonable disclosure of property or debts of the other party.
- You did not and/or could not have had adequate knowledge of the assets or debts of the other party.
It is not enough to simply claim you did not understand what you were signing at the time you signed the agreement. It is, however, possible that your lack of knowledge/education/experience may be a factor in determining that a prenuptial agreement was not entered into voluntarily or that it was unconscionable. If you divorce is in your future and a prenuptial agreement will be involved, you should consult with an experienced divorce attorney as soon as possible. Doing so is even more important if you hope to nullify the terms of that agreement.
Contact a Dallas Divorce Lawyer
If you have additional questions or concerns about how a prenuptial agreement will affect your Texas divorce, contact experienced Dallas divorce lawyer Rita M. Boyd, to discuss your legal rights and options by calling 972-380-8000 to schedule your appointment today.