Proving a Marital-Property Agreement Should Be Enforced
Typically, people enter into marriages believing that they will be together for the rest of their lives. A high percentage of marriages fail, however. In light of that fact, some people have the foresight to enter into premarital or post-marital agreements with the goal of protecting their rights and assets or setting other ground rules in case they divorce. It is not uncommon, though, for a party in a divorce action to argue that such an agreement is invalid and should be set aside by the court, even though that party signed the agreement. Proving a marital-property agreement should be enforced can be challenging, and it is crucial for anyone faced with such a task to speak to an attorney to protect themselves. The skillful Dallas divorce lawyers of McClure Law Group have ample experience helping people protect their interests in divorce cases, and if you hire us, we will advocate zealously on your behalf.Enforceability of Marital-Property Agreements Under Texas Law
The Texas Family Code (the “Code”) defines the grounds for setting aside a premarital agreement. Specifically, the Code states that a premarital agreement will not be enforced if the party opposing it did not voluntarily sign the agreement or it was unconscionable at the time of execution and they were not provided a reasonable and fair disclosure of their future spouse’s financial liabilities or property, did not voluntarily provide a written waiver of such disclosure, and did not have sufficient knowledge of their spouse’s property or obligations. The Texas courts decide the issue of whether a premarital agreement is unconscionable as a matter of law.
Similarly, if a married couple enters into a post-maritalagreement defining their respective property rights or exchanging or partitioning property, it must be written and signed to be enforceable. The grounds for deeming a post-marital agreement unenforceable are the same as those that apply to pre-marital agreements.
The Code expressly states that there are no other grounds for proving a premarital or post-marital agreement is unenforceable; however, it is important to note that the Code only applies to marital-property agreements entered into after September 1, 1993. The courts assess the enforceability of marital-property agreements entered into prior to that date based on the law that applied when the parties executed the agreement.Proving a Marital-Property Agreement Should be Enforced
Texas’ public policy dictates that marital-property agreements should be enforced. As such, the courts presume they are enforceable unless proven otherwise. The fact that a party lacked legal representation, the agreement was signed shortly before the wedding, or weighs heavily in favor of one party over the other will not render the agreement unenforceable by themselves, but may be factors that the court considers when determining enforceability.
A party seeking to prove a marital-property agreement should be enforced may rely on both direct and circumstantial evidence. Direct evidence may include documentation of any financial information disclosed to the contesting party prior to the signing of the agreement and discussions between the parties regarding the terms of the agreement. Notably, under Texas law, people are presumed to understand the terms of any agreement they sign. Thus, if a party can show that they did not mislead their spouse into signing the agreement, they may be able to defeat any argument that it was not entered into voluntarily.Confer With a Seasoned Dallas Lawyer
Parties in divorce actions will often try to avoid unfavorable rulings by attempting to persuade the court to disregard premarital and post-marital contracts, but the courts typically uphold properly executed agreements. If you need assistance proving that a marital-property agreement should be enforced, it is in your best interest to confer with an attorney as soon as possible. The seasoned Dallas lawyers of McClure Law Group take pride in helping people protect their rights in divorce proceedings, and we can gather the evidence needed to help you seek the best legal outcome available under the facts of your case. We represent people in divorce actions in Dallas, Rockwall, Fort Worth, Richardson, Frisco, Irving, McKinney, and Garland. Additionally, we assist parties in family-law disputes in Dallas, Denton, Rockwall, Collin, Tarrant, and Grayson Counties. You can reach us via our online form or by calling 214.692.8200 to set up a confidential consultation.