Although marriage is a beautiful event in the life of couple, the reality is that nearly 50% of all marriages end in divorce, requiring legal proceedings to end the marriage and divide assets. Due to the high divorce rate in the U.S., a growing number of engaged couples are now taking proactive measures to help strengthen their relationship before marriage, such as premarital counseling, or to protect their assets in the event of a divorce through pre-nuptial agreements.
A pre-nuptial agreement is a legal document that confirms or declares proper ownership of specific property or assets before marriage, and can also help determine ownership of assets acquired during the marriage. Because Texas is a community property state, marrying couples can use pre-nuptial agreements to classify specific assets as separate rather than community property. A pre-nuptial agreement might seem like a very unromantic gesture before a wedding, but the pre-nuptial process can help engaged couples reduce future disagreements by determining asset ownership and protecting financial security.
A pre-nuptial agreement ensures specific division of property, which is important whether the married couple is young with few assets, or older with a portfolio of financial assets and valuable possessions. Pre-nuptial agreements can help eliminate acrimonious and lengthy future battles over shared property such as jewelry, artwork, cars, homes, furniture or even pets. Children can also benefit when a pre-nuptial agreement is in place since it can protect their property rights for specific assets that otherwise might be lost in a contested divorce. This is especially true for older individuals with adult children that remarry, since their adult children might end up losing their inheritance or family assets without the protection of a pre-nuptial agreement.
Pre-nuptial agreements can also protect the assets of a business or company owned by one or both of the individuals before marriage. For example, an engaged couple that owns a small business together can use a pre-nuptial agreement to determine who should own the business and company assets in the event of a divorce, or can stipulate that the business be sold upon divorce and assets divided evenly between the two parties. Pre-nuptial agreements can help ensure that a thriving, healthy business does not suffer or face closure simply because the marital status of the owner(s) has changed.
Finally, family-owned assets or valuables owned before marriage can be protected through pre-nuptial agreements. If a man uses a family heirloom as his engagement ring, he can protect its future ownership with a pre-nuptial agreement, ensuring it is returned to remain in his family even if the marriage ends. Additionally, family-owned property given as a marriage gift, such as a house or land, can be protected through pre-nuptial agreements by stipulating that the property revert back to the original owners.
Couples considering marriage should strongly consider having a pre-nuptial agreement created, particularly if there is a large number of assets or even debts brought into the marriage. Christiansen Law Firm can assist individuals or couples in need of pre-nuptial or even post-nuptial agreements to ensure property rights are protected before, during and after a marriage. The family law attorneys of Christiansen Law Firm have extensive experience in drafting pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements, as well as litigating the validity or enforceability of an existing pre-nuptial agreement. Contact the Christiansen Law Firm offices in Houston or San Antonio online for more information, or call to request a free consultation.