Finances can be a huge marital strain. Arguments about purchases, investments and debt drive many Texas couples to divorce. Legal experts suggest prenuptial agreements offer couples a way to avoid marital property disputes, but not all fiance’s are ready to talk about assets before a wedding.
An alternative to prenups are postnuptial agreements. The two contracts have similarities. The former agreement occurs before while the latter is drafted after a couple marries. Post-“I do” agreements are preferable for couples who want to wait to make asset division decisions.
Marital property division during a Texas divorce follows community property laws — a 50-50 split. Financial contracts drawn up before or during marriage tell a court spouses agree to share property differently.
Pre- and postnuptial agreements may contain plans other than asset distribution. Conditions may be set that must be met before property is obtained. For example, an agreement may contain an infidelity clause that bars a spouse from certain financial benefits should he or she stray.
Postnuptial contracts have steadily gained popularity. Members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported more than a 50 percent increase in postnuptial agreements among clients between 2009 and last year.
Some attorneys think the recent extinction of the Defense of Marriage Act will encourage more spouses to sign financial agreements. DOMA’s end means same-sex spouses now have reasons to preserve or redirect assets they once could not share with partners.
Postnuptial requests follow patterns. Many couples simply want more time than the length of engagement to consider property division. Other spouses request contracts while anticipating substantial inheritances or when a marriage begins to crumble.
The lack of prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can extend divorce litigation with costly disputes over assets. A financial agreement signed in good faith before or after marriage prevents financial surprises and stress in the event of divorce. Both agreements should be reviewed by family law attorneys on both sides to ensure they will withstand legal scrutiny by the courts, should a divorce or dissolution occur.
usatoday.com, “Why postnups may be picking up” Kelley Holland, Jul. 14, 2013