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Is a prenuptial agreement necessary for farm couples?

A prenuptial agreement is a contract that is signed between two parties before their marriage. Such agreements are commonly drafted by each spouse's respective legal representative. The signatures of both parties to the agreement must be notarized to indicate that each one understands and agrees with the contents. A prenuptial agreement typically contains directives for the division of property if the marriage ends in divorce. It may also be valid in the event of one spouse's incapacitation or death -- unless a court decides that a will takes priority.

More and more farm couples agree on drafting prenuptial agreements. Texas is a community property state, and a spouse who was not the owner of the farm before the marriage may be entitled to claim half of all interests in the farm in the event of a divorce. High levels of contention can be avoided if these matters are addressed in a prenup.

Without a prenuptial agreement, a Texas divorce court may order the equal division of farm assets such as livestock and farming equipment. These are not easily divided and may have to be liquidated, which can jeopardize the operation of the farm. In addition to ensuring that each spouse's interests are protected, a prenuptial agreement can also protect the interests of possible children from previous marriages.

A prenuptial agreement may not be perfect for every farm couple in Texas, and the need for it is a personal choice of each spouse. However, those who believe that such agreements may serve them well and protect their future interests could benefit from discussing their options with experienced family law attorneys. The piece of mind provided by a professionally drafted prenuptial agreement may be invaluable.

Source: farmandranchguide.com, "Prenuptial agreements have mixed benefits for farm couples", Michael Rosmann, March 18, 2015

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