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Errors to steer clear of when signing a prenuptial agreement

Once thought of as useful document for only the rich and famous, a prenuptial agreement is actually a tool that can be utilized by any Texas couple prior to tying the knot. These legally valid documents can help a couple address a wide variety of topics, from asset protection to property division. However, as with marriage, rushing into the signing of a prenup can produce issues later on.

There are several mistakes that couples can make when drafting, discussing or signing a prenuptial agreement. First, retaining independent and separate attorneys is crucial to the overall fairness of the document. If one party has a lawyer and the other doesn't, the situation can quickly become imbalanced.

Attorneys can make sure each party's voice is heard, and can explain the ramifications of certain decisions. There should usually be four copies made of the prenup; two go to each party, while the other two go to each party's independent attorneys.

Like legal representation, timing is also important when it comes to prenups. If the document is signed too quickly or right before a wedding, it can be easier for either party to claim they were pressured into signing under duress. In some cases, courts can disregard a prenup if a claim is successfully made that it was signed under duress or coercion.

Another factor engaged couples may want to keep in mind is full disclosure. If all assets are not fully disclosed at the outset of a marriage, the prenuptial agreement can be invalidated. Prenups that are not put into written form and signed can also be invalidated, as courts rarely recognize agreements made simply via verbal promises.

Finally, some prenups may contain unenforceable provisions. These are often unusual requests that are difficult to keep, such as insisting one partner maintain a certain hair color throughout the marriage. If these provisions are in a prenup, the overall document may be weakened.

Whether a couple decides to draft a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement or not to include any instrument defining property division, they should be well informed of their choice. Those unsure of what steps to take or if the instrument is valid should seek guidance and advice from a professional.

Source: The Huffington Post, "10 common prenup pitfalls," David Centeno, Nov. 4, 2013

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Attorney Christine K. Lincoln

Christine K. Lincoln offers sound counsel and legal services to protect clients and their families facing divorce and other family disputes.

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