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Getting to a strong premarital agreement

There are two mistakes concerning premarital agreements. One mistake is not seeking a timely agreement. Another mistake is having an agreement that is invalid in Texas.

A premarital agreement is not the most romantic way to celebrate an engagement, but it helps avoid problems if the marriage fails. These agreements govern the division of money, valuables, homes and other assets during divorce.

It is harder for a spouse to claim coercion over signing the agreement if this process begins early. Waiting closer to the marriage ceremony can be viewed as coercion method to force an agreement after all the wedding plans are set.

Six months is advisable, but the couple should not give up on a premarital agreement if it is close to the wedding. Marital agreements may also govern these matters and can be signed if the couple waits until after their wedding.

Honesty is essential. Dishonesty can complicate a divorce or invalidate the premarital agreement.

Parties should also be transparent and fully disclose their assets and debts. They should not inadvertently omit insurance policies, older bank accounts or the worth of their residence.

Premarital agreements are important, but they have restrictions. These agreements generally govern property division and courts will not enforce an agreement that governs issues such as child custody. A judge will base a child custody decision on the best interests of the child, regardless of what any premarital agreement says.

Other unenforceable provisions include relatively trivial matters such as household chores and who stays at home during the day. These provisions are in many premarital agreements, however, because clients feel better about the agreement when they are included.

The parties and their attorneys should also approach this task without being contentious. It may be approached as a means for the parties to disclose their assets and to help with their financial planning for their marriage.

Finally, each party should have their own attorney assist them with negotiating and drafting these agreements. This assures that each party receives independent advice that protects their interests.

Source: CNBC, "Here's how to bulletproof your prenuptial agreement," Scott Cohn, March 9, 2018

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