There’s never a good time for bad news. Between chaotic work deadlines, that car light sensor that didn’t turn off after the tuneup and the master bedroom’s clogged sink, you’re in a haze throughout the week. Last thing anyone wants to ponder: prenups and “Does a prenup protect future assets?”
This is actually a question we hear often because the future is so unpredictable. Much to our dismay, we simply cannot foresee what circumstances life has to unfold. One day, everything is peachy and good with your spouse, and then the next day, you’re signing the divorce papers.
While the family lawyers at Thiessen Law Firm do not put together prenups, we do handle divorces, and our experience handling these divorces has encouraged us to share the potential benefits of prenups.
Here’s everything you need to know about prenups, future assets, future income, and more.
What is a prenup?
You never thought you’d be here and neither did your spouse, and it’s in this exact moment when you realize that you wished you had signed a prenuptial agreement. But even if you have, questions and unknowns often persist. What can you protect in a prenup? Can a prenup protect future inheritance? Can a prenup protect my pension?
With that in mind, I thought we should tackle the core of what a prenup is before diving into, “Does a prenup protect future assets?” It’s always helpful to understand the basics.
A prenuptial agreement is essentially a contract between you and your spouse filed before marriage. The document lists all of the property each of you individually own and all of the property each of you will own if the marriage unexpectedly ends.
What can you protect in a prenup?
Also, before we get into, “Does a prenup protect future assets?”, it’s also useful to understand how prenups can protect current assets. A prenuptial agreement in Texas may come in many different shapes and sizes.
It can protect everything from large and expensive assets like real estate, vehicles or expensive jewelry to smaller and less expensive items that may carry sentimental value for one of the parties—grandma’s pearl necklace is safe. Without a prenup determining ownership of the larger and more expensive assets, this can be a complicated process that takes significant time and energy. (See also: In a Texas divorce, who gets the house?)
Prenups also outline the agreements of potential instances. For example, a prenup could say that if Spouse A admits to cheating on Spouse B, Spouse A has to pay Spouse B a specified dollar amount. Or if Spouse A has $X,XXX in personal debt, it is up to that person to pay off the debt in the event of a divorce.
What can’t be protected in a prenup?
There are a few things that prenups cannot touch on, regardless if both parties agree to it. The best example of that is the fact that prenups cannot outline child support. The court will refer to Texas state law for the child support arrangement. Similarly, prenups cannot outline spousal support. So if Spouse A makes significantly more money than Spouse B, Spouse A may need to provide financial support to Spouse B.
Does a prenuptial agreement protect future assets or income?
So, does a prenup protect future assets? Short answer: yes.
Long answer: It’s complicated. Yes, a prenup can protect future assets, but the future assets need to be explicitly detailed in the agreement or else the court can waive any vague verbiage that doesn’t specifically outline who the ownership goes to. And it’s also worth noting that just as a prenup can protect future assets or income, it can also outline future debts.
How can I protect my assets without a prenup?
Unfortunately, there is no guarantee that your assets will be protected without a prenup. This is even the case for what may appear as a relatively straightforward no-fault divorce in Texas.
A good first step towards protecting your current and future assets may be to simply keep your finances separate. In other words, keep your money in separate bank accounts, file taxes separately, buy your own real estate, etc. This may help the court determine who does or doesn’t own what. However, trying to slide by without a prenup could quickly expose you to some rude surprises in typical divorce proceedings. For example, lying about income to avoid child support is just one of the few unfortunate things that may happen during a divorce. A better question to ask is how to best protect yourself in a prenup.
What happens when you get divorced with a prenup?
Every prenuptial agreement is different, and it all depends on the spouses’ unique situations. While prenups can help make the divorce process a little easier, it is a good idea to have a skilled Houston family law attorney to help make sure that you’re best interests are still being kept at heart throughout the divorce process.
Prenup or no, no one should have to face divorce alone. A skilled lawyer at Thiessen Law Firm can help you answer tough questions and navigate unexpected twists and turns. Request a consultation and get in touch with our team who are experts in family law.
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