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How Can I Make Sure a Texas Court Will Enforce My Prenuptial Agreement?

Posted on in Prenuptial Agreements

TX high asset lawyerPrenuptial agreements are a common legal tool used to avoid protracted litigation, particularly in the event of a high-asset divorce. Of course, when a divorce proceeding actually begins, it is not unusual for one spouse to challenge the validity of the prenuptial agreement. This is why it is essential to follow certain procedures when drafting the agreement initially.

Houston Court Rejects Wife's Challenge to Prenuptial Agreement

A recent decision from a Texas appeals court illustrates how to successfully defend a prenuptial agreement from such a challenge.

This case involves a couple that initially met through a dating website. The future husband lived in Houston, while the future wife lived in Vietnam. Even before the two met in person, the husband said he "wanted his future wife to sign a prenuptial agreement to protect his assets," according to court records.

True to his word, the husband presented the wife with a draft prenuptial agreement about a year before they were finally married. The agreement was translated into Vietnamese, as the wife did not speak or read English. The wife also consulted with a separate Texas attorney who spoke Vietnamese prior to signing the final prenuptial agreement.

The wife filed for divorce about seven years into the marriage. She challenged the validity of the prenuptial agreement. Following a bench trial, a Houston judge said the agreement was "enforceable." The wife then appealed, reiterating her view the agreement was "unconscionable" under Texas law and that she did not "voluntarily" sign it.

The Texas 14th District Court of Appeals disagreed and upheld the trial court's ruling. As the appeals court explained, there is no one-size-fits-all test for deciding whether a given prenuptial agreement is legally "unconscionable." Instead, the courts examine such claims "on a case-by-case basis examining the entire atmosphere in which the agreement was made."

Here, the wife "knew that a prenuptial agreement would be a condition for marriage even before [the husband] first visited her in Vietnam." She received a copy of the agreement in her native language. And she had the opportunity to meet with her own lawyer about the terms of the agreement. Finally, the court noted both parties "were mature adults" when the agreement was signed, and while the wife lacked the same amount of formal education as the husband, she nevertheless had "business savvy," as she operated two different businesses while still living in Vietnam.

Speak with an Austin High Asset Divorce Attorney Today

There are three critical takeaways from this case. First, it is always best to raise the issue of a prenuptial agreement early in a relationship; do not wait till the day of the wedding to spring it on your spouse. Second, always make sure your potential spouse can read and understand the terms of the prenuptial agreement. Third, both of you should consult with separate attorneys before signing any final agreement.

And if you need further advice on the validity of a prenuptial agreement from an experienced Austin high asset divorce lawyer, contact Powers and Kerr, PLLC, today to schedule a consultation.





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