What are the Requirements for a Valid Premarital Agreement in Texas?

Pre-nuptial agreements, called premarital agreements under Texas law, are frequently in the news and even in pop culture references (shout-out to Kanye West).  You may think that living in Dallas, Kaufman, or Rockwall County that you don’t need to worry about a premarital agreement, but they can be a very valuable tool. No one likes to think about divorce at the beginning of their marriage, but with the amount of marriages that end in divorce it can be extremely helpful to get an agreement in writing ahead of time to make sure that a divorce can be as painless as possible.

What are the requirements for a premarital agreement in Texas?

In Texas, a premarital agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. It is pretty much that simple. There are many things that may be contracted for in a premarital agreement but one major thing that is NOT allowed to be modified in certain ways in a premarital agreement is child support. You can’t completely get rid of (the statute says, “adversely affect”) child support. It makes sense because it seems like bad policy to have a child suffer because of an agreement of the parties that was possibly made before they were even born.

A premarital agreement is effective upon the date of marriage. This is important because if you are already married and want to do the same things that can be done in a premarital agreement you need to do a different type of agreement. It is also important because if you agree to a premarital agreement and then never get married it is meaningless.

What can I do with a premarital agreement?

A premarital agreement can be used to make community property (future community property because if you’re not married you don’t have any community property yet) into separate property and it can also be used to do the exact opposite, make property that is now separate property, and would continue to be into the marriage, into community property that both spouses have a right to. Although you can’t eliminate child support in a premarital agreement, you can eliminate spousal support.

The statute even includes a catch-all section that says that parties making a premarital agreement can contract with respect to, “any other matter, including their personal rights and obligations, not in violation of public policy or a statute imposing criminal liability.” So, long story short, there are a lot of things that you can contract about in a premarital agreement.

Are there any issues I should keep in mind with my premarital agreement?

There are a few ways to get around a premarital agreement even if it is in writing and signed by both parties and that is why it can be very beneficial to have an attorney assist you in drafting the agreement. There are certain things that can be done to reduce the likelihood of the premarital agreement being found invalid by a judge and an attorney can be valuable in ensuring that your agreement is as valid as it can possibly be. If you have any questions about a premarital agreement or any other family law matter contact Guest and Gray and we can schedule a time to discuss your options.