As discussed in my blogs earlier this week, there have been many rulings in the Deion and Pilar Sanders divorce this month regarding custody of the Sanders three children. Another significant issue was ruled upon this month which is that the couple’s 1999 premarital agreement is valid.

Deion and Pilar married in 1999 and prior to marriage the parties entered into a premarital agreement regarding their assets and debts. According to the Dallas Morning News, the premarital agreement “divides the couple’s property and awards Pilar Sanders $100,000 for each year they were married, with a cap set at $1 million.” During the ongoing divorce, Pilar Sanders has disputed the validity of the document based upon the assertion that there were missing exhibits and pages to the premarital agreement at the time it was signed by the parties. Pilar has also asserted that she was “tricked and defrauded” at the time she signed the 1999 premarital agreement.

Premarital agreements are not uncommon in today’s world. It is a binding contractual agreement entered into by spouses prior to marrying. The purpose of a premarital agreement is to protect a person’s assets that are owned prior to the marriage as well as to make certain financial provisions in case of a divorce.

Generally, Texas family courts recognize prenuptial agreements if the parties:

  • had independent counsel in creating the agreement,
  • were aware of their rights regarding property division under Texas law, especially if they agree to waive such rights,
  • entered into the agreement freely and voluntarily; and
  • were aware of each other’s income, and that full disclosures had been made.

This was not Deion Sanders first marriage. He was previously married to Carolyn Chambers whom he divorced in 1998. Having already been through one divorce, it is not unheard of for a person marrying for a second time to have a premarital agreement before entering into the second marriage.

The Judge’s ruling last week that the Sanders premarital agreement is valid is significant as the premarital agreement likely addresses and disposes of all property issues in the Sanders divorce.
 

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Photo of Michelle O'Neil Michelle O'Neil

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes…

Michelle May O’Neil has 27 years’ experience representing small business owners, professionals, and individuals in litigation related to family law matters such as divorce, child custody, and complex property division. Described by one lawyer as “a lethal combination of sweet-and-salty”, Ms. O’Neil exudes genuine compassion for her client’s difficulties, yet she can be relentless when in pursuit of a client’s goals. One judge said of Ms. O’Neil, “She cannot be out-gunned, out-briefed, or out-lawyered!”

Family Law Specialist

Ms. O’Neil became a board-certified family law specialist by the Texas Board of Legal Specialization in 1997 and has maintained her certification since that time. While representing clients in litigation before the trial court is an important part of her practice, Ms. O’Neil also handles appellate matters in the trial court, courts of appeals and Texas Supreme Court. Lawyers frequently consult with Ms. O’Neil on their litigation cases about specialized legal issues requiring particularized attention both at the trial court and appellate levels. This gives her a unique perspective and depth of perception that benefits both her litigation and appellate clients.

Top Lawyers in Texas and America

Ms. O’Neil has been named to the list of Texas SuperLawyers for many years, 2011-2018, a peer-voted honor given to only about 5% of the lawyers in the state of Texas. In 2014-2018, Ms. O’Neil received the special honor of being named by Texas SuperLawyers as one of the Top 50 Women Lawyers in Texas, Top 100 Lawyers in Texas, and Top 100 Lawyers in DFW. She was named one of the Best Lawyers in America for 2016 and received an “A-V” peer review rating by Martindale-Hubbell Legal Directories for the highest quality legal ability and ethical standards.

Author and Speaker

A noted author, Ms. O’Neil released her second book Basics of Texas Divorce Law in November 2010, with a second edition released in 2013, and a third edition expected in 2015.  Her first book, All About Texas Law and Kids, was published in September 2009 by Texas Lawyer Press. In 2012, Ms. O’Neil co-authored the booklets What You Need To Know About Common Law Marriage In Texas and Social Study Evaluations.  The State Bar of Texas and other providers of continuing education for attorneys frequently enlist Ms. O’Neil to provide instruction to attorneys on topics of her expertise in the family law arena.