The short answer is “yes.” Texas Courts tend to enforce prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements. Section 4 of the Texas Family Code states that Courts should enforce marital agreements unless the party trying to invalidate the agreement can prove the following:
- The party did not sign the agreement voluntarily; or
- The agreement was unconscionable when it was signed and, before signing the agreement, that party: (a) was not provided a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property of financial obligations of the other party; (b) did not voluntarily and expressly waive, in writing, any right to disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party beyond the disclosure provided; and (c) did not have, or reasonably could not have had, adequate knowledge of the property or financial obligations of the other party.
Should you stand to inherit family money, you should know that any inheritance is your separate property. So, your spouse is not entitled to any funds you have inherited or were gifted from your family whether before or after marriage. However, a prenup is still encouraged. The reason being is that should you make income off your inheritance, invest into your community estate, or comingle inheritance with your community income or estate, your spouse will be entitled to a portion of the money- especially if you cannot trace your separate property funds.
Many people are deterred from entering into prenuptial agreements because, for example, they believe that their spouse would try to invalidate the agreement anyway- causing you a headache with legal fees among other things. However, it is an important document that, if drafted correctly, could be a backbone to get you through the financial issues of your divorce.
So, what if your spouse wants the prenup and you don’t? It might protect you–consider it. Take for example, Walmart heiress Paige Laurie Dubbert. Paige filed for divorce from her husband Patrick Bode Dubbert on March 7, 2014 citing irreconcilable differences, although he claims she cheated on him last year (a ground for fault in the breakup of the marriage in Texas). Their premarital agreement provides that Patrick gets $30,000.00 a month in spousal support for half of the length of their marriage. Since they’ve been married almost six years, he would be getting about $2.1 million in their divorce- just in spousal maintenance. The agreement further protects her fortune she stands to inherit as a Walmart heiress. However nice the spousal support may be, Patrick is trying to invalidate the prenup claiming he did not sign it voluntarily as he was threatened by her parents to sign it or they would not cover wedding costs. In Texas, it is most likely that the Court would uphold their agreement unless Patrick has proof that the agreement is unconscionable (unlikely since he would be receiving so much money) or he in fact did not sign the agreement voluntarily.
Regardless, wealthy or not, it is always a good idea to consider a prenuptial agreement to protect yourself and any future earnings you may have- or in the alternative, to protect yourself financially with spousal support should you not meet the statutory requirements to be eligible for spousal maintenance in the state of Texas. For more information, please contact our law firm for a consultation.