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TX divorce lawyerWhile very few of us ever get married with the intention of later filing for divorce, Texas residents file for divorce more often than you might expect. Making plans in the event of divorce are important for Austin residents of all income levels, but planning is particularly important for wealthy Texans and high earners. We want to discuss some tips for preparing for a high net worth divorce in Austin at multiple points in time—from the time of your marriage to the moments shortly after filing for divorce. If you need assistance with your divorce, an experienced Austin high asset divorce lawyer can help.

1. Sign a Prenuptial Agreement

Under the Texas Family Code, two people who are planning to get married can enter into a prenuptial (or premarital) agreement. While prenuptial agreements are helpful for people at all income levels, they are particularly necessary for individuals who are high earners or would anticipate a high asset divorce in the event the marriage does not last. In a prenuptial agreement, the parties can reach an agreement about how certain assets will be divided or distributed in the event of divorce.

2. Avoid Commingling Separate and Community Property

Avoid commingling separate property and community property wherever possible. In other words, any property you acquired before the marriage, or any property acquired through gift or inheritance during the marriage, should be kept separate. Do not use those assets to contribute to community property, such as investing separate property into a community property account or by using separate assets to improve the marital home.

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TX divorce lawyerOne of the most difficult components of many high asset divorces involves the division of business assets. Although having a pre or postnuptial agreement can make this process much simpler, not all couples enter into these types of agreements, which means that either a court or the parties themselves will need to decide how any business interests will be split. To ensure that the division of your marital assets, including any business interests, is fair and equitable, please contact an experienced high asset divorce attorney who is well-versed in Texas law and can advise you accordingly.

Is There a Premarital Agreement?

If a couple entered into a premarital agreement and one of the parties already owned a business at the time, then the fate of that company in the event of divorce should have been included in the agreement. In these cases, how the business’ assets will be divided depends on the terms of the agreement, which could mean a number of different things. For instance, the parties might have previously agreed that the entire company would go to one spouse in the event of divorce, or that both would receive an equal share.

Just because a couple did not enter into a premarital agreement before getting hitched, does not mean that they are out of luck when it comes to dividing their business upon divorce, as married couples also have the option of entering into postnuptial agreements that account for these types of assets.

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Texas divorce lawyerMany couples who enter into a marriage with significant assets of their own choosing to create a premarital agreement, which ensures that property acquired prior to the marriage will not be divided upon divorce. However, prenuptial agreements are only enforceable in court if they are created in accordance with specific standards, so if you or your future spouse have significant assets, it is critical to speak with an experienced high asset divorce attorney who can ensure that your agreement is valid and will not later be thrown out by the court.

Defenses to Enforcement

There are only a few ways that a person can defeat a premarital agreement, including by proving that:

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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 high asset divorce attorney, Texas postnuptial agreement lawyerWhile most people have heard of prenuptial agreements, many are unaware that couples can also enter into what are known as postnuptial agreements. Postnuptial agreements are written contracts that are entered into by two parties who are already married. Essentially, postnuptial agreements dictate how a couple’s assets will be divided in the event of death or divorce and so can significantly simplify divorce proceedings. However, not all postnuptial agreements are enforceable, so if you are considering entering into a postnuptial agreement or believe that yours does not meet state requirements, it is important to contact an experienced high asset divorce attorney who will aggressively represent your interests, whether during settlement proceedings or in court.

Dividing Marital Property

In Texas, all property obtained over the course of a couple’s marriage is community property and is usually split equitably between the divorcing spouses. However, if a couple does not have a prenuptial agreement, but does not want to leave the division of their property up to a judge, they can choose to draft a postnuptial agreement that arranges for the division or exchange of some or all of the community property. Furthermore, as part of the exchange, a couple may also agree that any income from the exchanged property will become the separate property of one spouse.

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Texas prenuptial agreement attorney, Texas complex litigation lawyerNo couple wants to consider the possibility that their marriage will end in divorce. However, it is often in the best interests of all parties to take precautions for this possibility by drafting a prenuptial agreement that will govern how property will be distributed in the event of a divorce. A couple who does not create a prenuptial agreement risks an unfair division of marital property during dissolution, so if you are considering marriage and have questions or concerns about drafting a prenuptial agreement or if you already have one in place and are pursuing a divorce, it is critical to contact an experienced complex divorce attorney who can explain your legal options.

The Contents of a Prenuptial Agreement

Prenuptial agreements can go a long way towards giving couples peace of mind regarding property division and alimony. However, only certain issues can be covered in prenuptial agreements, including:

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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 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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