How do Pre-Nuptial & Post-Nuptial Agreements Work in Texas?
Prenuptials & Post-Nuptials: The Basics
Tylka Law gets many questions from Galveston and League City couples regarding nuptial agreements. Basically, should a divorce occur, a nuptial agreement outlines what each partner wants or will take responsibility for. One agreement (prenuptial) takes place before a marriage, and another (post-nuptial) takes place after a marriage. Post-nuptial agreements are re-writable (we recommend every 3-5 years) as assets and salaries grow. Texas family law requires nuptials be voluntary, specific and somewhat complex, but nuptial agreements are useful deterrents against messy and expensive divorces. For purposes of this article, we are breaking down nuptial agreements into 4 categories:
- Children & Child Support
When used in the context of the law, “property” means much more than just a home. A car, boat, large electronics, jewelry, even toys are considered property in a nuptial agreement. You should add anything you think is important to your agreement. Your father’s old baseball bat or mother’s dress may not be worth much, but you should add it to your nuptial because you consider it special. Neglecting to add these items to your nuptial allows their use as a negotiation tactic during divorce proceedings.
On its face, “salary” translates pretty simply to “what you earn”. However, this is greatly complicated in divorce. If you hold retirement accounts, stocks, bonds, or a piece of a business, this is taken into account during divorce proceedings as financial assets. Business owners especially need to take note here. If you are a ownership partner, your spouse can take 50% of your ownership during divorce proceedings. This can complicate business activity or prevent future investment. Tylka Law recommends including any financial assets in a prenuptial. We also recommend updating your post-nuptials when a major financial change occurs, or every 2 to 3 years.
Children & Child Support
The custody of a child precedes most nuptial agreements (especially in cases of abuse), however child support is a factor that ties into your salary. Let’s say you provide $50,000/yr salary during the birth of your child. Ten years later, you are making $150,000/yr salary. During a divorce proceeding, your spouse may argue that you should keep providing the more current standard of living. Nuptial agreements detail exactly what you will provide during the termination of a marriage. Tylka Law recommends updating nuptials at least every 5 years regarding child support.
Poorly-written nuptial agreements often overlook liabilities, but financial damages from liabilities are profound. If your spouse has a 6-figure student loan or is indebted to partners of a failed business and you are not aware of this during your marriage, you may have to split or cover liabilities during a divorce. Outlining what debts will be paid by which party will help you in the event of a divorce. Tylka Law recommends updating your post-nuptials every 2 to 3 years to include and delegate any liabilities.
Final Thoughts on Prenuptial and Post-Nuptial Agreements
As family-law attorneys, the one question we receive the most often is “If my future spouse wants a pre-nup, does it mean he/she doesn’t love me?” The answer is no. Nuptial agreements are just a practical deterrent to a hypothetical situation. If heaven forbid your marriage fails, the nuptial agreement will help both of you in the end. Trust us, we’ve seen messy, expensive divorces that could have easily been avoided with a simple prenuptial or post-nuptial agreement.
If you have any questions for us, feel free to give us a call or contact us online. Thank you for reading, and have a great day!