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Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements in Ohio are more common now than they were many years ago. In the past, the courts reflected the attitude of society that viewed such agreements as in conflict with the sanctity and intimacy associated with the marital relationship. As society evolved through the years, the realization that marriage is a contractual agreement with complex financial aspects forced states to enforce prenuptial agreements.
The advantages associated with a married or soon-to-be-married couple taking the time to consider the financial aspects of their relationship are often outweighed by the notion that such agreements intrude on the intimacy of the marital bond. However, a prenuptial agreement prepared and signed prior to marriage can help a couple to avoid conflicts during their marriage or in the event of a divorce or separation.
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Prenuptial agreements are written contracts between two people prior to marriage. Prenuptial agreements typically identify property or assets owned by each of the parties and property they own together.
Prenuptial agreements offer the parties the opportunity to identify the rights each of them will have regarding the assets mentioned in the agreement and future assets and earnings. A prenuptial agreement usually provides for the disposition of the identified assets in the event the marriage is terminated by divorce, annulment, dissolution, or if the parties agree to separate without terminating the marriage. It can also include a waiver, and it may specify the amount of spousal support in the event of divorce or separation.
Postnuptial agreements are more problematic due to the current law in Ohio. Section 3103.06 of the Ohio Revised Code states that a married couple cannot enter into an agreement with each other that will alter their legal relations, with the exception of separation agreements.
Despite the apparent prohibition on the enforcement of postnuptial agreements in the state, courts in Ohio have enforced such agreements if they are executed in conjunction with the decision by the parties to separate. Other courts have enforced written agreements which were entered into by the parties after the marriage if it could be proved that these agreements functioned as written confirmation of the terms of an oral prenuptial agreement.
The best course of action for a couple desiring to have a prenuptial agreement is to contact a Medina family law attorney at Erb Legal LLC. We can help you prepare a valid, enforceable agreement and ensure that it is executed correctly. Relying on an oral agreement made prior to marriage can be risky, even if it is set down in writing after the marriage has been solemnized, and this type of agreement may not be enforceable by the courts in Medina, Wooster, and North Canton.
Because prenuptial agreements can affect an individual’s property rights and entitlement to spousal support, courts that are asked to enforce them will scrutinize them carefully. Essential elements of an enforceable prenuptial agreement include:
A prenuptial agreement that includes provisions for custody or support of children will be enforced only if a court is satisfied that such provisions are in the best interests of the children. Courts in Ohio retain the right to ignore agreements between spouses if a judge believes such agreements are in conflict with a child’s best interests.
Broaching the subject of a prenuptial agreement in the midst of planning a wedding and honeymoon can be difficult. Asking someone to sign an agreement relinquishing rights to property or support in the event of a divorce, annulment, or separation might appear cold and untrusting. However, engaging in a conversation about the financial aspects of marriage should be seen as a willingness and desire to be open and frank about the relationship.
The complexities of the law in Ohio pertaining to prenuptial and postnuptial agreements require the services of a knowledgeable and experienced family law attorney. For answers to your questions and concerns about prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, contact Erb Legal LLC at (330) 446-3606. From our office in Medina, Ohio, we serve clients though Medina County and Wayne County.