Setting the stage for a positive marriage relationship is something that takes work and it's work that experts generally agree should be done before the exchanging of vows. Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements can reflect that positive work, as we observed in our last post.
The list of couples who could benefit from the crafting of a solid agreement is broad. You don't have to be wealthy. Your union doesn't have to even be licensed or require a formal ceremony. That's because Texas recognizes the validity of common law marriage under which couples can don the rights of marriage merely by mutual consent, and by presenting themselves as being married in public.
Now, the text of the law on common law marriage in Texas specifically refers to unions between men and women. Same-sex relationships technically are not included. That interpretation is something that could well change now that the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled that bans on same-sex marriage are unconstitutional. But that change could take some time.
In the meantime, it might be wise for same-sex couples who have lived together for many years but have never sought or been permitted to marry to consider drafting a prenuptial agreement. At the very least they would do well to think about assembling a partition agreement. Here's why.
Same-sex couples who have been together for many years may have accumulated a lot of assets. They may have been purchased and titled under one of the individual's names. If no agreement establishing how assets should be distributed in the event of a death or a split, the spouse without title to an asset could be left in a lurch.
Same-sex couples may still find it a struggle in some places to obtain the right to marry. But prenuptial or partition agreements provide a means by which they can still express their respect for their partners and commitment to their unions.
Source: WealthManagement.com, "Trust But Verify: The Value of Prenuptial Agreements," Marilyn Chinitz, July 29, 2015