Prenuptial Agreements In Ohio

Divorce and Family Law

This page is designed to help you better understand the basics of prenuptial agreements, what a couple should put in their prenuptial agreement if they are considering one, what the process is for a couple to obtain and properly execute a prenuptial agreement, and how an attorney can help a couple who is considering executing a prenuptial agreement before their marriage.

A prenuptial agreement can be a useful and helpful tool in protecting two individuals’ assets and liabilities in the unfortunate case that a marriage between those two individuals does not work out and results in a divorce.

Note: Just as with any other legal situation, if an individual finds themselves needing to create a prenuptial agreement, they should not hesitate to contact an attorney. It is a smart tactical move and can prevent a person from losing all of their assets or getting themselves into potential financial trouble in the event of a divorce. This page details the specifics regarding the process of prenuptial agreements in the state of Ohio, and can vary from state-to-state. This article and its contents are merely for informative purposes and should not be construed as legal advice. For accurate and up-to-date legal advice, an individual should contact an attorney or legal professional.

Understanding Prenuptial Agreements

If an individual were to look up prenuptial agreement in Merriam-Webster, they would find a definition similar to this: “an official agreement that two people make before they marry in which they state how much of each other’s property each will receive if they divorce or if one of them dies.” However, this is more of a blanket statement for a general understanding than it is fact. A lot more goes into a prenuptial agreement than dividing up property in the event of a divorce or death.

A more precise understanding and legal definition of a prenuptial agreement would be: “a written contract between two people who are about to marry, setting out the terms of possession of assets, treatment of future earnings, control of the property of each, and potential division if the marriage is later dissolved. These agreements are fairly common if either or both parties have substantial assets, children from a prior marriage, potential inheritances, high incomes, or have been “taken” by a prior spouse.” This definition more accurately reflects the purpose of a prenuptial agreement. It isn’t simply a division of property in the event of a divorce. It is more than that.

A prenuptial agreement is more or less an outline for determining two individuals’ pre-existing assets and making arrangements for how those two individuals’ future assets and earnings will be handled in the future should a marriage result in divorce or possibly death. As the legal definition more appropriately clarifies, a prenuptial agreement is common and it can be a smart tool to protect an individual and their spouse for the future.

What Should A Person Include In Their Prenuptial Agreement?

An individual and their future spouse should inform the other of all of their premarital assets and all of their premarital liabilities. In order to guarantee the most success out of a prenuptial agreement and enforcement of the prenuptial agreement by the court, both individuals should be completely honest about what they have in their possession and what liabilities they have on their financial assets and properties. In the event of a divorce, if a judge believes or learns that one of the individuals was not honest about their assets when the prenuptial agreement was created, the judge is less likely to enforce that prenuptial agreement because it was made under false pretenses. For this reason, both individuals should be completely honest and disclose what should happen for all of their assets and liabilities in the unfortunate case that a divorce or death were to occur.

Like any major decision, there are advantages and disadvantages to creating and signing a prenuptial agreement. The biggest advantage is, by creating and signing a prenuptial agreement, a person is protecting themselves (and possibly their spouse and/or future children) in the event of a divorce. The biggest disadvantage to a prenuptial agreement is that it can cause ill will or issues between two individuals before they are married. Financial information and decisions about property will be made during the course of a creation of a prenuptial agreement. While it can be a good thing for a person to protect their property in the event of a divorce, it may offend an individual’s future spouse. They may take the idea to mean that they are not trusted, or that there is doubt that their marriage will last.

It is important that both individuals understand that a prenuptial agreement isn’t just protecting the primary individual that suggested the prenuptial agreement, but it also protects the future spouse from being taken advantage of. Also, discussions during a prenuptial agreement can be a useful tool to opening up conversations about one of the most difficult topics in a marriage: finances. By communicating with one another and planning for the future, both individuals are potentially strengthening their marriage and strengthening their financial future in the event of potential unwanted hardship.

What Is The Process of Getting A Prenuptial Agreement?

Recently, Ohio has adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA) to help regulate and streamline prenuptial agreement laws across the country so they are the same in every state. As for the specific requirements in the state of Ohio, the only real requirements are that both parties disclose everything openly and honestly, the parties have two witnesses, the prenuptial agreement is put into writing and signed by both parties.

For the most part, there aren’t many steps or an actual “process” that a person has to go through before creating the document. However, it is always a good idea that both individuals speak with their attorneys and involve them in the discussion process to make sure that they have covered all of their bases as far as what to include in the prenuptial agreement.

Both individuals should create the prenuptial agreement well in advanced of their wedding because some courts are unlikely to enforce an agreement that was created just before a wedding took place. Once the two individuals have disclosed everything to one another and have written out the prenuptial agreement, it is always a good idea to have an attorney look the document over for potential errors and to make sure that everything is in order.

As the state of Ohio requires, when signing the prenuptial agreement, the individuals should make sure that they have two witnesses present to watch them sign the agreement. Also, it is never a bad idea to have the prenuptial agreement notarized, and the notary public can serve as one of the two required witnesses. If a couple should choose to do this, they would testify to the notary public that everything written in the prenuptial agreement is accurate and true, then they would sign the document in front of the notary republic and one other witness (or two if the couple decides it is necessary) and the notary will sign and stamp the document, making it official. From there, the couple should have at least three copies. Each of the individuals who created the prenuptial agreement should have a copy, and a copy should be kept with a trusted third party.

How Can An Attorney Help You?

Before Marriage
Consulting an attorney is always sound advice that any individual should consider if they are going through any kind of legal issue or have a legal concern. If an individual is considering creating a prenuptial agreement, that individual can consult with an attorney to find out the exact specifics of what they should include in their prenuptial agreement that way there is the highest possibility that it will hold up if challenged in court. Also, one the two individuals have created the prenuptial agreement, they should take their finalized document with all of the terms on it to an attorney to look over before either individual signs the document. An attorney can review the document in its entirety and provide feedback on whether the prenuptial agreement seems complete or whether the two individuals should include more detailed information or assets in the agreement.

In The Event of A Divorce
If, unfortunately, the marriage does not work out and the prenuptial agreement has to be enforced, working with an attorney is always the best possible scenario. An attorney will work with their client and the court to represent the client’s best interests and secure for them the best outcome they can. If there are issues with the prenuptial agreement, an attorney can bring those issues to the court. Vice versa, if the prenuptial agreement is sound and an individual’s significant other is trying to break the prenuptial agreement or get around it, an attorney can represent the validity of the prenuptial agreement and work to ensure that the document is upheld and carried out.

An attorney can be an essential tool for an individual to utilize in many different situations. When an individual hires an attorney, they are not just hiring a person to represent them in court; they are hiring a person to help them better understand the technical world of the law. With the help of an attorney, an individual can ensure that their case or their situation is in the best possible hands.