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Should your Texas pre-wedding checklist include a prenuptial agreement?

The venue? Check. The dress? Check. The cake? Check. Brides and grooms must make dozens of important decisions when it comes to their weddings. They must decide when and where to hold the ceremony, whether the reception will be a sit-down dinner or appetizers only, who will be in the bridal party, and so on. According to a survey conducted by well-known wedding website The Knot, the average American wedding costs more than $28,000.

Clearly, with that kind of money invested, a wedding is something to be taken seriously and planned meticulously. But, what about after the wedding? Isn’t it just as important for couples to plan for the marriage as well? And, for the “worst case scenario” should the marriage falter? The answer to that question, of course, is a resounding “yes.”

The myths

Thanks to the influence of television, movies and print media, premarital agreements have been sullied as a way in which wealthy spouses “cheat” their poorer husbands or wives out of well-deserved assets. Because of this, some people automatically distrust the concept of a prenup. Others assume that since neither they nor their future spouse are wealthy, then there is no need for a premarital agreement. Still others view prenups as archaic legal devices that means that the marriage is doomed to fail from the very beginning.

Sadly, none of these views portrays a complete picture of what prenuptial agreements can and cannot do, or how valuable and versatile they can be, even for a couple without significant assets.

The reality

For example, a couple may start out having few assets of their own, but one spouse could be set to inherit money from a wealthy older relative. That couple could likely benefit from a prenuptial agreement that automatically sets any inheritance received after the marriage begins aside for the education of the couple’s future children. If the parties married without an agreement in place, they could always draft a post-nuptial agreement later that serves the same purpose of protecting assets for the children if the marriage ends.

Those couples who think that prenups “doom” a marriage to fail will benefit by looking at the situation from a different perspective. If you purchase car insurance, you aren’t “dooming” yourself to wreck, are you? Or, if you purchase homeowners’ insurance, you aren’t setting your house up to burn down, are you? Of course not. Pre- and post-nups can be seen as a form of “divorce insurance.” With nearly half of all first-time marriages ending in divorce – and the divorce rate for subsequent marriages being even higher – it is wise for parties to realize that the future is unknown, but that it’s good to plan ahead just in case.

Prenups are particularly helpful in situations where one or both spouses want to ensure that assets or real property remains separate from the marital estate so as to protect the interests of children from a former relationship or special needs loved ones in the care of one spouse.

Are you considering a prenuptial agreement before your Texas wedding? Have you already gotten married but now think that a post-nuptial agreement would suit your financial needs? Do you need more information about what prenups can and cannot do before you make your decision? Thankfully, a skilled Texas family law attorney experienced with these complex documents can help couples at all stages draft or enforce premarital and post-nuptial agreements.