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Texas divorce attorneyPremarital agreements can help ensure that in the event of a divorce, both parties will have a clear understanding of their assets and liabilities. However, premarital agreements are not always enforceable, in which case, a couple may need to reevaluate property division issues, so if you believe that your premarital agreement does not conform to the state’s requirements, please contact a complex divorce lawyer who can explain your options.

Voluntary Signatures

In order to be considered valid, a premarital agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. Even when these technicalities have been honored, an agreement can still be challenged if one of the parties alleges that at least one of the signatures was not voluntary. To establish that a signature was not voluntary, the party may need to provide evidence that the document was signed under duress, fraud, or undue influence.

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Texas family law attorney, Texas high asset divorce lawyer, Texas prenup lawyer, New homeowners never think that their houses will burn down, and they certainly do not desire such an outcome. But responsible homeowners always obtain insurance policies, even though there is nothing "fun" about filling out insurance forms. In a similar vein, no soon-to-be-newlywed couple anticipates a high asset divorce, and they certainly do not desire this outcome. But a premarital agreement and a homeowner's insurance policy have much in common: they both help couples be prepared if the unthinkable should happen.

These contracts serve an additional purpose. Much evidence indicates that financial squabbles are among the leading causes of marital strife. When these disagreements inevitably appear, a premarital agreement helps bring order to the chaos, because some important financial decisions have already been made.

Making a Premarital Agreement

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Texas complex litigation lawyer, Texas high asset attorney, Texas complex divorce attorney, In many high net worth divorces, assets have an emotional value that is equal to, or even greater than, the monetary value. For example, a house is not just a residence; it is the place where the children grew up. The same principle applies to many personal property items, like grandfather clocks and sets of dishes.

Retirement accounts often fall into this category as well. In addition to their significant dollar value (a 410k, IRA, or other long-term savings account is often the largest asset in a divorce), the account represents years or even decades of financial sacrifice and the promise of long-term security. So, it is little wonder that there are many issues stemming from retirement accounts in a high-asset divorce.

Pre-Division

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Texas marital laws, Texas high-asset divorce attorney, complex litigation,Purchasing a car is nearly always a happy experience. Buyers are understandably focused on the cars' features and their plans for years of freedom on the open road. Auto insurance is only a necessary afterthought. In some ways, marriage is much the same. The bride and groom are understandably focused on their love for each other and their plans for a life together. A premarital agreement is only a necessary afterthought. Although no one plans to get in a car wreck or get divorced, responsible owners, and spouses, should be prepared for any possible outcome.

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Especially in a second or subsequent relationship, a premarital agreement can put inheritance plans in writing, virtually eliminating the possibility of a future battle in probate court that no one really wants.

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Texas divorce attorney, Texas complex litigation attorney, high-asset divorce,A premarital agreement can hardly be considered romantic, but it is an important part of a strong marital foundation. Many couples fight over money issues, and although the issue is normally dealing with debt, dealing with large assets can be every bit as stressful.

By executing a solid premarital agreement, you can eliminate a potential source of conflict before it ever manifests itself in the first place. If there is a high-asset divorce later, a premarital agreement may help narrow the issues, and the spouses might avoid a legal battle that is both financially and emotionally costly.

Who Needs a Premarital Agreement?

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prenuptial agreementIt is rare that a prenuptial agreement is dismissed as invalid in divorce proceedings. But the recent case in New York where a the wife of a Long Island real estate mogul convinced the judge that the prenup she signed before their marriage was invalid is considered precedent setting in legal circles. Elizabeth Petrakis told the court that she was coerced to sign the agreement, only four days before the wedding, because her husband, Peter Petrakis, threatened to call off the wedding. Petrakis said she felt pressured because her father had already spent $40,000 in wedding costs.

In the agreement, Peter Petrakis would keep everything if they should divorce. Elizabeth Petrakis said her husband told her he would tear up the agreement as soon as they had a child. But two children later, he still did not tear it up. Elizabeth Petrakis has been arguing the validity of the agreement for seven years. Two prior Nassau County courts said that Peter Petrakis "fraudulently induced" Elizabeth to sign the agreement and those decisions were affirmed by a Brooklyn appellate court. So what are some of the grounds where a prenuptial agreement could be overturned?
  1. Fraud is one reason why a judge could throw out an agreement. If one party fails to make full disclosure of all their assets, the court considers that fraud.
  2. If someone can prove they signed an agreement while under duress or with coercion, the agreement may be thrown out. Each state does have different standards of what is considered duress or coercion.
  3. If an agreement was signed when a person lacked mental capability, a judge may order it invalid. For example, if the person was under the influence of drugs when the agreement was signed, they may not have fully comprehended what they were signing.
  4. Improper filing of paperwork or incorrectly drafted can also end up making a prenup invalid.
  5. If you sign a prenup without having your own, impartial legal representation can invalidate an agreement.
  6. What the court would consider asinine provisions – such as not having to pay child support in the event of a divorce – will more than likely have a judge stamp the prenup as invalid.
If you are planning a marriage and are discussing drawing up a prenuptial agreement with your future spouse, it's important to have your own independent council. Contact an Austin family law attorney to represent your best interests in this process.
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