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Marriage Contract in Texas: What is in a Marriage Contract?

Sophia Merton
April 18, 2024

When we think of marriage, we tend to think of the more romantic aspects of the union rather than the practical, legal, and financial realities of tying the knot. For this reason, many might be resistant to even learning about the potential of having a marriage contract in Texas.

In reality, though, creating a marriage contract can be a smart move for couples that want to create clear expectations and avoid conflict in their marriage.

What is a marriage contract, exactly, and what do they consist of? What are the typical components of a marriage contract? What makes you a good candidate for creating this type of legal document?

Let’s look at the answers to all of those questions and more.

What Is a Marriage Contract?

A marriage contract, also commonly referred to as either a prenuptial agreement (prenup) or a postnuptial agreement (postnup), is a legally binding document that outlines the rights and responsibilities of spouses in relation to a number of different financial matters during their marriage and in the event of divorce or death.

person signing marriage contract in texas

In simpler terms, it's a written agreement between two people who are about to get married or are already married. In the document, couples usually specify how assets, debts, and other financial matters will be managed and divided if the marriage ends in one way or another. Furthermore, this contract can be used to outline how financial matters will be dealt with during the marriage.

What Issues Are Usually Addressed in a Marriage Contract?

So, what’s in a marriage contract?

wedding table for couple with marriage contract in texas

While this is a unique document created by and for each couple to meet their specific circumstances, you’ll typically find the following issues discussed in a marriage contract:

  • Property division: A common component of a prenup or a postnup touches upon how assets acquired before or during the marriage will be divided in case of divorce or death.
  • Debt allocation: Similarly, prenups and postnups usually discuss how debts incurred before or during the marriage will be handled.
  • Spousal support or alimony: Some postnups or prenups might also cover how much financial support one spouse will provide to the other in the event of divorce.
  • Inheritance rights: Another key topic is how inheritance rights will be managed in the event of one spouse's death.
  • Business interests: Prenups and postnups will also commonly touch upon how business assets, interests, or income will be handled during the marriage and in the event of divorce.
  • Other financial matters: Any other financial arrangements or agreements the spouses wish to include, such as savings, investments, or retirement accounts, can also be addressed in a marriage contract.

What Is the Purpose of a Marriage Contract?

At its core, the purpose of a marriage contract is to provide clarity and security for both spouses.

wedding shoes and flowers for couple with marriage contract in texas

With a prenup or a postnup, both parties can ensure that their financial interests are protected and that there are clear guidelines in place for handling financial matters in the event of a breakup.

Furthermore, having a prenup or a postnup in place can also help streamline the divorce process by resolving potential disputes in advance.

Looking for more information about marriage and divorce in Texas? Check out some of our guides:

Understanding the Legal Framework That Underlies the Marriage Contract in Texas

It's important to note that marriage contracts must comply with state laws to be enforceable, and each state has its own requirements and regulations regarding the content and validity of these agreements.

couple with marriage contract in texas

Therefore, it's always advisable for couples considering a marriage contract to consult with an attorney who is knowledgeable about the laws in their state to make sure the contract they make will be seen as legal and enforceable.

In Texas, the legal framework that underlies marriage contracts is governed by the Texas Family Code. The Family Code sets forth the rules and regulations regarding marriage, divorce, property division, spousal support, and more.

Here are some of the things you’ll want to know about marriage contracts in Texas:

  • Texas is a community property state: Texas is a community property state, which means that marital property is generally divided equally between spouses in the event of divorce. However, couples can modify this default rule through a marriage contract so long as a judge still sees the split as right and just.
  • The requirements for of a marriage contract in Texas: To be enforceable, a marriage contract in Texas must meet certain legal requirements. These include that the agreement must be in writing, both parties must sign the agreement voluntarily, without coercion or duress, both parties must provide full and fair disclosure of their assets, debts, and financial circumstances, and the agreement must not be unconscionable, meaning it cannot be extremely unfair or one-sided.
  • Marriage contract enforcement: Texas courts generally uphold marriage contracts that meet the legal requirements for validity. However, courts have the discretion to invalidate provisions of the agreement if they are found to be unreasonable, unfair, or contrary to public policy.
  • Scope of the agreement: Marriage contracts in Texas can cover a wide range of financial matters, including property division, spousal support, inheritance rights, and more. However, there are certain limitations on what can be included in these agreements, such as provisions regarding child custody or child support, which are typically determined based on the best interests of the child at the time of divorce.
  • Modification and revocation: Couples in Texas have the option to modify or revoke their marriage contracts after marriage, provided that both parties agree to the changes in writing. Any modifications or revocations must also meet the legal requirements for validity.

The Benefits of Having a Marriage Contract

Having a marriage contract in Texas can offer several significant benefits for couples. Here are some of the key advantages:

  • Providing clarity and certainty: A marriage contract provides clarity and certainty regarding financial matters, including property division and spousal support, in the event of divorce or death.
  • Helping to protect separate property: A marriage contract allows individuals to protect their separate property, such as assets owned before marriage or inherited assets, from being divided as community property.
  • Preservation of business interests: For individuals who own businesses or have significant business interests, a marriage contract can help protect those assets from being divided in divorce.
  • Allowing for financial planning and security: A marriage contract enables couples to engage in financial planning and establish a framework for managing their finances during marriage.
  • Helping create a streamlined divorce process: In the event of divorce, a well-crafted marriage contract can help streamline the divorce process by providing clear guidelines for property division and other financial matters.
  • Protection for children from previous relationships: For individuals with children from previous relationships, a marriage contract can include provisions to protect the inheritance rights and financial interests of those children.

Who Needs a Prenup?

In Texas, as in all other states, the decision to create a prenuptial agreement depends on the individual circumstances and goals of each couple.

While prenups are often associated with wealthy individuals, they actually can be beneficial for a wide range of couples. Here are some situations in which couples in Texas may consider creating a prenup:

  • Individuals with significant assets or debts: If one or both spouses have substantial assets or debts, a prenup can help protect those assets or clarify responsibility for debts acquired before or during the marriage.
  • Business owners or entrepreneurs: A prenup can help protect business interests and prevent disruption to the business during divorce proceedings.
  • Individuals with children from previous relationships: If one or both spouses have children from previous relationships, a prenup can ensure that assets intended for those children are preserved and distributed according to the individual's wishes without interference from community property laws.
  • Individuals concerned about alimony: Couples may use a prenup to establish terms for spousal support, including the amount and duration of support payments, or to waive spousal support altogether.
  • Individuals with different incomes: Couples with significant differences in income or financial resources may use a prenup to address financial disparities and ensure fairness in property division and support obligations.
  • Couples planning for the future: Even couples without significant assets or debts may choose to create a prenup as a proactive measure to clarify financial expectations, protect against unforeseen circumstances, and streamline the divorce process in the future.

Navigating Family Law in Texas

Creating a marriage contract in Texas, either before or after your union, might not sound like the most romantic thing in the world. After all, doesn’t making a prenup or a postnup mean that you’re expecting your marriage won’t last?

The truth is, actually, that marriage contracts can be a very useful tool in your financial life. These documents don’t just outline what happens to assets and debts in the event of divorce, but they can also create a clear understanding of what happens in the event of one party's death and even create a plan for your finances during your marriage.

Are you searching for more resources to help you navigate family law in Texas? If so, make sure you check out our Texas Divorce Laws blog for more articles and information.

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Written By:
Sophia Merton
Sophia received her BA from Vassar College. She is a researcher and writer that aims to help make the complexities of the legal system understandable to the layperson. Believing that people can be empowered by understanding their rights and responsibilities under the law, Sophia aims to offer accurate and well-researched information in straightforward and easy-to-digest legal articles.

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