You and your fiancé probably spend a lot of time doing fun things together. Perhaps you like to try new restaurants, go to concerts and even take romantic vacations together. You may also be planning an elaborate wedding that is sure to leave a dent in your budget.
One thing you may be noticing is that your beloved pays for many of these extravagances with a credit card. In fact, if you have seen the bill for these charges, you may also notice that your fiancé is not making much headway in paying it down. Now you may be wondering if that credit card debt is just the tip of the iceberg of the financial issues you may face when you are married. Is there any way to protect yourself from the risk?
Since Texas is a community property state, if your fiancé continues to rack up credit card debt after you are married, that debt becomes your shared responsibility, even if it is in your spouse’s name alone. In fact, if your spouse uses his or her personal credit card to take you on vacation or to purchase your new furniture, the court may count it as joint debt since you shared the benefits.
To protect yourself from the liability you may face from your spouse’s spending habits, you may want to consider a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement is a contract you make with your fiancé to specify how assets and debts will be handled during the marriage and divided in the event of a divorce. With a prenup, you and your intended can agree to keep your debts separate and even specify who will be responsible for the monthly payments.
Making it stick
While every state recognizes prenuptial agreements as acceptable contracts, the protection they provide is only as solid as the document’s preparation. Some factors that may nullify your prenup include:
- Forcing your fiancé to sign by using threats
- Creating a contract that is unfairly balanced
- Using a prenuptial agreement to perpetrate fraud upon your creditors
- Expressing the terms in vague or confusing language
Prenups can be a way of protecting each other from unnecessary debt burdens and can even foster communication about finances.
If you regret deciding to marry without the benefit of a prenuptial agreement, you can consider using a post-nuptial agreement. This contract has the same spirit as a prenup except that you sign it after you are already married. The assistance of an attorney is highly recommended for post-nups since they do not carry the same credibility in court. In fact, several states do not even recognize post-nuptials as valid contracts.