Most people have heard of prenuptial agreements — often referred to as prenups — and understand that they’re a way to protect assets in case of divorce. However, fewer people know about postnuptial agreements. These are marital contracts signed after a couple has married, but the intent of such a document is the same as with prenups. The big question most people have in regard to these contracts, though, involves whether postnuptial agreements are enforceable in Texas.
Understanding the answer to this question is vital if you hope for a positive outcome if your marriage ever ends in divorce.
What Is a Postnuptial Agreement?
Texas postnuptial agreements lay out specific expectations regarding certain matters should a couple decide to divorce. For instance, the spousal parties can decide in advance how they’d like finances handled, who will receive what property, alimony requirements, and a variety of other issues that are often only decided during divorce proceedings. The major difference between Texas postnuptial and prenuptial agreements is that the former is signed after marital vows.
In some states, only prenuptial agreements are presumptively enforceable. The party trying to assert rights provided in a postnuptial agreement will have to prove its enforceability in court. This isn’t the case in Texas. Marital contracts are presumptively enforceable in the Lone Star State, but it is possible that a court could find that presumptive validity isn’t appropriate. This will largely depend on how the agreement was made.
Will Texas Enforce a Postnuptial Agreement?
Since enforceability of a postnuptial agreement is presumptive in the state of Texas, the courts will enforce it in most circumstances. There are some aspects to these agreements, however, that may make them unenforceable. This is why it’s so important to speak with a Houston family law attorney prior to signing any document. If you’re not careful, your Texas postnuptial agreement will not be enforceable.
Here’s what courts expect from these contracts:
- All debts and assets must be fully disclosed by each party
- Signing of the postnuptial agreement must be voluntary and not due to fraud or duress
- Both spouses must have the legal capability of agreeing to the contract
- Postnuptial agreements must be in writing
- Postnuptial agreements must be signed by each spouse
If any of these rules are violated, a Texas postnuptial agreement may not be enforceable. For instance, imagine a situation where one spouse threatens to cut off access to their bank account if the other spouse doesn’t sign the contract. If this occurs, then the agreement was signed under duress and thus invalid. Courts will also not enforce any arrangements they feel are “unconscionable.”
A Texas divorce attorney can help ensure all elements of your agreement are legal and enforceable.
How to Create a Valid Postnuptial Agreement in Texas
Creating an enforceable postnuptial agreement in Texas merely requires following all appropriate rules. Unlike other legal documents, you don’t even have to file this marital contract with the court. You’ll simply need to keep the document in your own records. Of course, you may fare better by having an attorney create and hold onto the agreement for you. This can ensure no mistakes are made and that your documentation isn’t lost.
If you choose to sign a postnuptial agreement, it’s vital that you understand how it works. Simple mistakes can invalidate the entire document, and certain issues simply cannot legally be agreed upon in such a document (e.g., child custody). Postnuptial agreements are enforceable in Texas, but this is only the case if they’re done right. You can ensure this happens with the help of a Texas family law attorney.