Going into a marriage, most individuals own property. When a couple divorces, it is often difficult for one spouse to prove ownership of a piece of property separately. This is because, during the course of a marriage, lines between separate and community property become blurred. To maintain ownership of your separate property, you have the burden of proving that the property belongs to you alone.
To protect separate property owned before marriage in Texas, many couples enter into a prenuptial agreement. Prenuptial agreements provide certainty for individuals hoping to protect their personal assets in the event of divorce. However, to be enforceable, prenuptial agreements must meet specific requirements:
- Prenuptial agreements must be in writing and signed by both spouses prior to marriage. Notarization is not required in Texas.
- Both parties must sign the agreement voluntarily. If duress is a factor in obtaining a spouse’s signature, the prenuptial agreement may be struck down as void in court.
- Full disclosure of each spouse’s assets and liabilities is required, as both spouses must have a complete understanding of the other spouse’s financial situation prior to entering into the agreement. If spouses fail to fully disclose their financial situations, or if the agreement is unconscionable at the time it is signed, the agreement is voided.
- Prenuptial agreements may address spousal support plans, property distribution and other issues, but provisions that adversely affect child support obligations are not honored.
- A prenuptial agreement becomes effective on the date of marriage and may only be modified afterward upon the agreement and signature of both parties.
If you are considering a prenuptial agreement, an experienced San Antonito family law attorney at the law firm of Joseph P. Appelt can make sure your property is protected.