When most people hear the term “prenuptial agreement,” their first thought is divorce. Certainly, a prenup does offer an array of protections if the parties decide to get a divorce, but the agreement can also provide a foundation for financial management during the marriage. Disagreements over money can put a great deal of stress on a marriage, which a well-crafted prenup can alleviate. At Butler & Flynn, PLLC, in Oklahoma City, our family law attorneys have the knowledge and skill needed to negotiate and draft a prenup that fits your needs, now and in the future.
A prenuptial agreement is a useful tool for prospective spouses who are coming to the marriage with personal wealth they want to see protected in the event of divorce. It’s also helpful for two-career couples who want to retain some level of financial autonomy. The agreement covers assets and debts they’re bringing to the marriage as well as their anticipated earnings during the marriage. This gives the couple control over their separate property and their part of the marital estate. Each party has a right to save, spend or invest their own assets as they see fit, and those assets are protected in the event of a divorce.
A prenup often goes beyond the disposition of assets and debts to cover other obligations. For example, the agreement could require a spouse to purchase life insurance for the other’s benefit. It can state how the couple will handle trust income, inheritances and gifts, including gifts from one to the other. It can also lay out terms for spousal support and child custody in case of a legal separation or divorce. But the agreement cannot include a child support settlement that compromises the rights of the children.
If you don’t have a prenuptial agreement, and the issues listed above are putting pressure on your marriage, you can create a postnuptial contract. The agreement is essentially the same as a prenup, except that you and your spouse agree to it after you are already married. The major difference is a legal requirement for a valid contract known as consideration.
In contract law, consideration is what makes an exchange of promises legally binding. Simply put, a party does something he otherwise wouldn’t have to do, or gives up something he’s not otherwise obligated to give up, in order to seal the deal. In a prenup, the marriage itself is adequate consideration to make the contract enforceable. But, with a postnup, the couple is already married. For the contract to become binding, one party must give consideration to the other. A knowledgeable family law attorney at our firm can explain how this might apply specifically in your case, so you can have confidence that your agreement is enforceable in a court of law.
Oklahoma does not have a specific statute covering prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. However, any agreement must conform to the basic tenets of state contract law. Courts will not enforce an agreement that has been forced upon one party by the other or signed under duress. An agreement is invalid if there’s been misrepresentation of material facts, fraud or if an imbalance of negotiating power has resulted in an unconscionably unfair contract.
Butler & Flynn, PLLC represents Oklahoma engaged clients in matters related to prenuptial agreements and helps married clients form valid postnuptial agreements. For trustworthy guidance on these issues, call 405-416-2711 or contact us online to arrange a free consultation at our Oklahoma City office.