When a couple gets divorced in Texas, the marital assets are divided according to the state's property division laws -- that is, unless the couple has a prenuptial agreement in place.
A prenuptial agreement allows the couple to bypass the community property laws that have been set by the Texas legislature and decide for themselves how their property should be split if the marriage ends.
Therefore, prenuptial agreements are not only a great way for people to protect assets; they also allow both parties to maintain control over their assets in case something goes wrong.
Under the Texas Family Code, prenups are presumed to be valid. However, they are not indestructible. In fact, they can be thrown out if certain requirements are not met or there are other problems with the legality of the contract.
Here are three reasons prenups can be thrown out in Texas:
The prenup is not in writing.
Oral contracts can be upheld in Texas, but this is not true in the case of prenuptial agreements. In order for a prenup to be valid, it must be in writing and signed by both parties. If the prenup is not in writing or is missing one or both signatures, it could be invalidated.
The prenup was signed under fraud, duress or undue influence.
If one party took advantage of the other party in order to get him or her to sign the agreement, then the prenup could be thrown out. Even being pressured into signing the contract too close to the wedding date can be considered duress.
This is a fact-based determination, which means the judge will make a decision after hearing evidence from both sides.
The prenup is unfair and the person treated unfairly was duped.
Texas law reserves the right to invalidate a premarital contract that treats one partly so unfairly that it is considered "unconscionable," but only if that party did not know what was at stake when he or she agreed to sign the prenup. In other words, treating one party unfairly, alone, isn't enough to invalidate the prenup.
In any of the scenarios described above, all of part of the prenup can be thrown out. However, it's important to keep in mind that Texas law assumes that prenups are valid, so the burden is on the person trying to get the prenup thrown out. He or she will need assistance from an experienced attorney.