Authentic Marriage Vows

This is the second in a series on Love and Marriage

“I do.”

The two little words that will rock your world.

Uttering that phrase in a marriage ceremony cements you into one of the most important legal and business relationships in your life.

Bet they didn’t cover that in premarital counseling. 

It is a bit of a shame that more people are not informed about the real-world consequences of marriage in Texas, a community property state.

If there was a requirement for full disclosure during the ceremony, then this is what your wedding vows might look like this:

  • “I take thee to be my wedded spouse.“I give you one-half of my earnings and purchases from this day forward.
  • “I agree to be personally liable for any debt that you run up for your necessary housing, clothing, food and medical care, even if I don’t know about it beforehand.
  • “I give you the right to contract away any of our property that you manage.
  • “I give up my right to name anyone other than you as a beneficiary on my work-related retirement plan.
  • “I know I am not obligated to pay your existing college debt or any other debt that you racked up before today, but I realize that may not matter much since it is likely that you will be paying down your debt with future earnings that are half mine.
  • “I hereby take your credit score.  I realize that your credit score is technically all yours, and mine is all mine, now and forever after.   However, I accept that both of our credit scores will have a huge effect on our borrowing for big-ticket items like houses and cars and that my score will be impacted, for better or for worse, by our joint debt.
  • “I agree to join you in a game of make-believe for titling our accounts and assets.  It will make both of us feel better, even if it has no foundation in reality.  So if I open a bank account to deposit my salary and put it solely in my name, then we are both going to pretend that it is all mine.  Even if the Texas constitution and a plethora of state laws make it clear that each of us has an undivided one-half interest in the account.
  • “I understand that it is going to be darned-near impossible to keep the property that I brought into the marriage and anything I inherit or are given as truly separate.  I know that, with few exceptions, you are going to own half of the earnings that are made from my separate property.
  • “I accept that you bring into this union your existing kids, your parents, and your siblings with their spouses.   I embrace all associated family squabbles, histrionics, turmoil and shared holidays, and recognize that as part of the deal I may have to actually support the ingrates.
  • “With full knowledge of the foregoing, I still take thee to love and to cherish till death or a divorce judge do us part.”

Now that is love.

Virginia Hammerle is a licensed Texas attorney.  Her practice includes estate planning, litigation, guardianship and probate law.  See hammerle.com for her blog and newsletter sign-up.  This column does not constitute legal advice.