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Prenuptial agreements and so-called lifestyle clauses

Prenuptial agreements have been popular for years among high-asset, high-profile couples, but it is reportedly increasingly common for these agreements to include provisions on personal matters such as infidelity. According to some reports, A-list celebrities have been making agreements that one will get hundreds of thousands, or even millions of dollars if the other cheats.

Other reports suggest that these so-called lifestyle clauses are becoming more common among the general public as well. However, it's unclear whether these agreements are legally enforceable.

Prenuptial agreements are contracts between the spouses before they wed and can include agreements on many matters. Postnuptial agreements follow the same idea, but are signed after the marriage. The Texas law which provides for recognition of both types of agreements calls for specific requirements to be met before the state will enforce an agreement. It also spells out what specific matters will be enforceable under these agreements. Most of them concern financial matters such as property division and alimony. Child support cannot be affected by one of these agreements.

These agreements can be very important in cases of high asset divorce. For those with complicated business assets and property interests, a valid prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can save a lot of complication later on, should the marriage be dissolved.

Texas law is not clear on whether lifestyle clauses in these agreements are enforceable. In at least one state where the matter has been tested, a court found that it could not enforce an infidelity clause because it was contrary to public policy.

Still, some attorneys recommend that clients who want one of these clauses in their agreement go ahead and include them. Even if they are not legally enforceable, these clauses do have the effect of clarifying each party's expectations for the marriage. A Texas attorney with experience in a broad range of family law matters can help people to understand how these agreements work.

Source: Huffington Post, "Divorce Settlements and Higher Education," Brad Reid, March 13, 2014

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