People in Ohio (and other states) who marry in early middle age or later in life have often had a previous marriage that ended in divorce, and they are determined to make the second marriage succeed. While nothing can guarantee the success of a second (or third) marriage, a prenuptial agreement – or, as they are called in Ohio, “antenuptial agreement, can provide a significant amount of help in smoothing the bumps that could derail a second marriage. Most people, when considering entering into an antenuptial agreement, see such agreements as the very antithesis of a happy union. Nonetheless, an antenuptial agreement, when viewed in the proper light, may become the key to making the marriage succeed.
The basics of an antenuptial agreement
The first point is to remember that an antenuptial agreement is a contract between two people who intend to marry, nothing more and nothing less. The agreement provides an opportunity to lay out the basics of property division and spousal support in the event the marriage ends in divorce. Negotiating the terms of the agreement also provides an opportunity for each party to reveal and learn about each other’s financial situation.
The first formality of a valid antenuptial agreement is that the agreement be in writing and signed by both parties before the wedding. Oral antenuptial agreements are not enforceable in Ohio.
The Ohio statute governing antenuptial agreements requires that the agreement must be entered into by both parties without duress, coercion or fraud. To put it differently, an antenuptial agreement cannot be enforced if the party seeking enforcement can be proved to have coerced the other party into signing the agreement or to have made fraudulent statements about his or her personal assets and liabilities. Also, the person attempting to enforce the antenuptial agreement must have permitted the other spouse ample time to read and understand the agreement before signing it.
Antenuptial agreements can be rendered unenforceable by the failure of one party to adhere to the legal requirements of a valid agreement. Anyone who is interested in signing an antenuptial agreement should consult an experienced divorce attorney for advice on substance of the terms of a proposed agreement or potential defenses if the other spouse attempts to enforce the agreement.