One of my clients is getting married and asked me to review the prenuptial agreement that he had downloaded off a free “legal information” website.
In Texas, all property owned prior to marriage is separate property, and all property earned, created or otherwise obtained during marriage is community property (with exceptions for inheritance, gifts and personal injury settlements) including increases in separate property. The typical purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to prevent the creation of community property. Client’s document looked very official, had some legalese thrown in for effect, but it did not stop the formation of community property after marriage in Texas…. Not one bit. And Client was not made aware of the practice of a post-nuptial agreement – the website had not warned him that in Texas it is considered best practice to have both a pre-nup and a post-nup, and for both sides to be represented by counsel.
With just a few hours of legal work and discussion with New Wife’s attorney, I was able to create a document that WILL protect Client from creating community property after marriage, potentially saving Client tens of thousands of dollars in the event of a future divorce.
If Client had not asked for a review of the internet document, his prenup would have had the legal effect of doing absolutely nothing - it literally was not have been worth the paper it was printed on.
The internet is great for research and general information, but it should not be a substitute for legal counsel by a licensed Texas attorney. Spend a few hundred dollars now to save thousands later.