OTHER THAN PRENUPS, WHAT AGREEMENTS ARE THERE?

Most people have heard of premarital agreements (a/k/a “prenups”), but did you know that there are other kinds of agreements that a couple can enter into in the State of Texas?

Cohabitation agreements.  People who intend to live together but who do not intend to get married, or who cannot get married legally in Texas (such as same sex couples), can enter into cohabitation agreements.  A cohabitation agreement enables these couples to define their rights and obligations toward each other during the relationship.  For example, parties can agree that one partner will move to a particular city and stay home to raise a child in exchange for the other partner agreeing to make monthly payments into a separate account for the stay at home partner.  Cohabitation agreements must be in writing, signed by the person obligated by the agreement, and made in consideration of nonmarital conjugal cohabitation.

Separation agreements.  Legal separation is not recognized in Texas – either a couple is married or not, and spouses continue to be subject to laws that apply to married people until they are divorced.  However, spouses can enter into separation agreements to specify or alter their legal rights and duties while living apart but not divorced.  For example, spouses can enter into agreements that divide property or provide for custody and financial support of a child.  To be enforceable, the separation agreement must be in writing, signed by both spouses, and entered into without coercion or undue influence, and must be fair and equitable.  Also, if the separation agreement partitions, exchanges, or converts marital property, it should conform to the legal requirements that govern those sorts of agreements.

Agreements in consideration of marriage.  Parties who are not married can enter into agreements made in consideration of marriage, such as when a woman promises to return a man’s engagement ring if the marriage does not take place.  Although agreements in consideration of marriage are similar to premarital agreements, they differ in that agreements in consideration of marriage are effective immediately and can be enforced even if the marriage never takes place.  To be enforceable, the agreement must be in writing, signed by the person obligated by the agreement, and made in consideration of marriage.

Right-of-survivorship agreements.  During a marriage, spouses can agree that all or part of their community property, current or future, can become the property of the other spouse in the event that a spouse dies.  An ROS agreement converts a deceased spouse’s community property into the surviving spouse’s separate property.    Spouses can also create ROS agreements to address jointly held separate property and for multiparty accounts, like joint bank accounts.

If you are considering entering into an agreement with your spouse or partner, you should seek the advice of a lawyer.  These sorts of agreements have to meet certain legal requirements to be enforceable, and a lawyer can draft the documents properly and/or guide you in the right direction.  Beware of do-it-yourself forms that you find on the internet…all too often, when things fall apart, the parties find themselves in a situation where the agreement they drafted is not enforceable and it is too late to do anything about it.

The Law Office of Alexandra M. Geczi PLLC is a law firm focused exclusively on family law and has experience with these agreements.  Please contact our office at 214-269-4256 or visit our website at www.FamilyLawDFW.com to learn more.

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