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Texas prenuptial agreements: Asset and sanity protection

Premarital financial planning can save a lot of headaches and heartache. Some Houston couples dismiss prenuptial agreements as an unwelcome interruption to an otherwise blissful engagement. Finances just aren't fun compared to wedding preparations.

Couples can't avoid money discussions forever. During divorce, you're forced to address them. Among other functions, prenuptial agreements are designed to prevent financial shocks during divorce, when the likelihood of emotion-fueled conflicts is high.

Premarital agreements are beneficial for heterosexual and same-sex couples, particularly when partners have a long history. The contracts can define separate and marital property, according to your terms rather than a court order.

Many individuals enter marriage after forming a solid career base and accumulating some serious personal assets – a real estate purchase, a small business or retirement investments. Marriage could change the status of those assets from separate to marital property, which under Texas community property laws might be subject to division during divorce. A prenuptial agreement allows you to label those assets as separate.

It's likely you and a partner have made some major joint purchases if you've been together for several years. Premarital agreements let you clarify property ownership, before the issue becomes a problem at the time of a divorce or death. Prenups are especially helpful for same-sex couples, whose marital statuses can be subject to on-again, off-again state gay marriage laws.

For example, the Texas gay marriage ban was upended by a federal judge in February. According to a recent Houston Chronicle report, the state's newly-elected governor – the current attorney general – is hoping to have the ban overturned. In light of a recent ruling upholding bans in four states, the goal may not be impossible.

Prenuptial agreements are financial contracts you and a partner design, negotiate and approve in advance of marriage. The agreements can be infinitely preferable to having a court make property decisions for you.

Source: The Indianapolis Star, "Experts' advice to same-sex couples planning to marry: Get a prenup" Kristine Guerra, Nov. 03, 2014

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