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what does a prenup do

What Does a Prenup Do? Understanding Prenuptial Agreements

What does a prenup do? How do you know when or whether you need one? As a couple prepares for a wedding, it’s an exciting and overwhelming time. 

The idea of a prenup is not something everyone wants to address. However, it’s still an important factor to consider. While these agreements have a negative connotation around them, they are truly a misunderstood legal tool. 

When you want to prepare for an unclear future, it’s important to understand what these contracts cover. Below, we look at these premarital agreements and how a family law attorney can help. 

What Is a Prenuptial Agreement? 

A prenup, legally known as a prenuptial agreement, is a written contract signed between two parties prior to their marriage. Typically, this document lists the assets, properties, and debts owned by each person. Then, it specifies each person’s rights to each property after the marriage. 

Some states call this agreement an antenuptial agreement or a premarital agreement. Occasionally, people also use “contract” in place of “agreement.” Lastly, if a couple makes an agreement during a marriage, they might see the term marital, postnuptial, or postmarital. 

Who Needs to Use a Prenup? 

If you ask the average person, “what does a prenup do,” they might say it is a tactic rich people use to protect their assets. Contrary to how we see prenups in media, they are not solely for the rich. Today, many couples turn to these contracts for a range of reasons. 

Here are just a few of the reasons that people ask for a premarital contract. 

  • To clarify financial rights: People often wish to make their financial responsibilities and rights clear, with or without children or wealth. 
  • To protect themselves from debt: Additionally, spouses sometimes use prenups to protect each other from debts and other issues. 
  • To pass property to a child from a prior marriage: If you have children from a prior marriage, it’s possible to use a prenuptial agreement to detail what happens to your property when you die. This allows you to pass on separate property to children while still providing for your spouse. 
  • To avoid added strain in a divorce: In order to avoid a potential disagreement, you can specify in advance how to divide property or whether someone might receive alimony. However, not every state allows a spouse to give up their right to alimony. 

What Does a Prenup Do in Texas? What the Contract Covers

Texas family law clearly states that a prenuptial agreement can only address certain financial matters. 

  • Each spouse’s obligations and rights regarding property
  • The allocation of real estate and personal property in the event of divorce or a spouse’s death
  • Alimony rights 
  • The creation of a trust, will, or any other arrangement that facilitates the provisions of a premarital agreement
  • Who has the right to use, transfer, buy, sell, lease, abandon, assign, encumber, or otherwise control property 
  • The rights to death benefits in a life insurance policy 
  • Choice of law that governs what state law interprets and decides if a dispute arises
  • Other matters that do not violate the criminal laws or public policy of Texas

However, these contracts cannot cover issues that address current or future children. This includes custody and support payments. However, a prenup can also make division conflict and custody matters more manageable.

Can I Terminate a Prenup After a Marriage? 

Now that you have a general answer to “what does a prenup do,” it’s important to understand that there’s always a way to modify or terminate these initial agreements. To do so, you need a new agreement in writing that disavows or alters the old version. 

Additionally, both parties have to agree to the terms. There’s no specific consideration required to support a disavowal or modification. Typically, we refer to these as “postnuptial agreements.” 

Whether you have concerns about a forthcoming wedding or want to protect your spouse from a debt, you don’t have to wonder “what does a prenup do” on your own. At Nguyen & Chen, our family attorneys are available to help you understand your options. 

Book a consultation with our legal team today to learn more about your rights and how to use a prenup as a legal tool.