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Texas prenuptial agreements preempt property conflicts

Some people are extremely conscientious about money through habit or necessity, but when love is in the air, financial practicality flies out the window. Engaged Houston couples may avoid money discussions, so the subject doesn't put a damper on wedding preparations. Financial talks can be uncomfortable, but many spouses-to-be now realize how necessary they are to prevent conflicts.

Many Harris County couples are doing more than talking about money. Fiancees are taking steps to secure individual wealth by entering into prenuptial agreements. The unromantic contracts spell out terms of property division in the event a marriage ends, which no couple wants to envision but most know is a possibility.

Some people describe prenuptial agreements as assets shields for a spouse with considerable pre-marital assets. Section 3 of the Texas Family Code defines separate property as individual property claimed or owned before marriage. Marital property, divisible during divorce under the state community property laws, is property accumulated during marriage by either spouse.

While the rules seem cut and dried, identifying separate and marital property can be a problem. Inheritances are considered separate property, but the asset becomes marital property when you drop the money in a joint account or use inherited cash to pay off a joint debt. Once you share assets, they are commingled and no longer retain a separate status.

Prenuptial agreements allow couples to plot the course for property ownership. The contract is signed in advance of marriage, at a stage of the relationship when there's a willingness to negotiate openly and fairly. The parties may not be so motivated to cooperate, when property issues are left to resolve during divorce.

An individual who assumes a future spouse's financial attitude will match their own may be in for an unwelcome surprise after marriage. Prenuptial agreements offer transparency about property matters, so ownership and division of assets don't become future, costly legal problems.

Source: Yahoo! Finance, "Why I Signed a Prenup (and You Should Too)" Laurie Itkin, Daily Worth, Apr. 03, 2014

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