Hartley Law Office, LLC

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Revisiting your prenuptial agreement

You signed a prenuptial agreement many years ago, never dreaming that its provisions may come to actually affect your life. Now, however, your marriage seems headed for divorce and you wonder how your prenup will influence property division and other important issues.

Ohio courts usually uphold prenuptial agreements so long as they meet legal requirements for validity. 

Voluntary signing

The first requirement for a valid prenup is that both parties signed voluntarily. Generally, this means neither party signed due to coercion or deception. Whether duress or coercion factored into a party's acceptance of the prenup can depend on the specific facts of the case.

Undue pressure

Excessive pressure to sign can take many forms. Some important factors courts look at include whether one party surprised the other with the agreement right before the wedding and whether both parties had enough time to review the document and consult their attorneys. If your spouse presented the prenup to you in a manner that would force you to postpone the wedding to give you a reasonable time to review and understand the agreement, courts consider whether such a postponement would have meant substantial hardship or financial loss.

Material disclosures

At the time of the prenup, you and your spouse should also have known and understood the full extent of one another's property, income and financial prospects. Hiding or misrepresenting relevant facts can invalidate the prenup, as the other party does not have enough information to truly consent.

A prenup most not promote divorce

To be valid in Ohio, a prenuptial agreement should also not encourage divorce. A judge may deem that an agreement incentivizes divorce if it provides for one spouse getting a substantial sum after a brief marriage.

Dealing with invalid provisions

A prenup's provisions can cover matters such as alimony, property division and other arrangements between the spouses. However, a prenup cannot set forth child support and visitation. A court may decide to throw out invalid provisions and enforce the rest of an otherwise valid prenup.

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