Your Prenuptial Agreement May Be Invalid if…

A prenuptial agreement is a great way to protect yourself and your assets in the event of a divorce, which is why our Texas family law attorneys recommend that every individual entering into a union with his or her significant other creates and signs one. However, every once in a while an individual will enter the divorce proceedings assuming that his or her premarital contract is going to provide protection, but instead is informed that the prenuptial agreement is in fact invalid.

This is probably one of the most devastating revelations that individuals going through a Dallas divorce can make—especially if they have a large amount of assets, or particular assets they want to protect. At the Clark Law Group, our Dallas divorce attorneys aim to minimize conflict in divorce as much as possible for our clients. Many times, this means negotiating a divorce settlement that both parties can benefit from. And other times, it means ensuring that all premarital contracts comply with Texas prenuptial requirements so that they are valid and legally binding.

What Can a Valid Prenuptial Agreement Do?

According to the Texas Family Code, Chapter 4, Section 4.003, a prenuptial agreement in Texas may include 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;
  • Any other matter, including their personal rights and obligations, not in violation of public policy or a statute imposing a criminal penalty.
  • The right of a child to support may not be adversely affected by a premarital agreement.

So long as each provision is in line with any of the above, your prenuptial agreement should be valid in the state of Texas.

Your Prenuptial Agreement May Be Declared Invalid if…

Now that we have covered what a valid prenuptial agreement looks like, we can discuss what factors make a prenuptial agreement invalid. Sometimes, the error is obvious, such as the fact that the agreement was never actually written and signed; other times, however, the error can be so minute that the untrained eye would not recognize it. Whatever the reason for a prenuptial agreement’s invalidity, a Dallas divorce attorney can ensure that every aspect of your prenuptial agreement is legal and binding. In order to do that, it is first helpful to understand what makes a prenuptial agreement invalid. The top ten reasons that most premarital contracts are rendered invalid are as follows:

  • There was no written agreement. All prenuptial agreements must be in writing in order to be enforceable.
  • The prenuptial agreement was not properly executed. Properly executed simply means that both parties must agree to the terms and sign the contract prior to marriage.
  • One party was pressured into signing the contract. If one party pressures the other to sign a prenuptial agreement, the prenup is invalid.
  • One party failed to read the prenup before signing. If one spouse places a bunch of documents, including a premarital contract, in front of the other and asks him or her to sign them quickly, and if the other spouse does so without reading any of the paperwork, the signed premarital contract would be rendered invalid.
  • One spouse was not given adequate time to consider the provisions of the prenup. If one spouse is not given adequate time to review a premarital contract’s terms before signing, the prenup could be rendered invalid. This applies to prenups given to a spouse on his or her wedding day, when the recipient has little to no time to consider a prenup’s terms.
  • The prenuptial agreement includes one or more invalid provisions. Provisions that try to modify child support obligations or that violate the law in any way can render an entire premarital contract invalid.
  • The prenup contains false information. If one or both parties sign a premarital contract without fully disclosing information regarding their assets, finances, or liabilities – or if one spouse provides the other with untrue information - the prenup would be considered invalid.
  • The prenup contains incomplete information. The failure to provide complete information is just as bad as providing false information, and serves to render a prenuptial agreement invalid.
  • One or both parties signed the prenup unrepresented. While it is not necessary for either party to be represented by an attorney when creating and signing a prenup, a prenuptial agreement would be considered invalid if both parties were to be represented by the same attorney.
  • The prenuptial agreement is grossly unfair towards one spouse. While prenuptial agreements allow individuals to waive their rights to an inheritance, to the other spouse’s income, or even to all of the marital property, if the prenuptial agreement is grossly unfair towards one spouse, but greatly benefits the other, the Texas courts will not enforce it, deeming the prenup “unconscionable.”

Consult a Dallas Divorce Lawyer

At the Clark Law Group, we can ensure that your prenuptial agreement meets all of the legal requirements of a legally binding premarital contract. We understand that there is nothing worse than assuming our assets were protected, only to discover that they are not. Our Dallas divorce attorneys can ensure your protection by helping you draft and finalize a valid prenuptial agreement. To get started, contact our Dallas family law firm at (469) 906-2266 to schedule a private consultation with one of our attorneys today.

(image courtesy of Marcelo Ndombaxi)

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