Yes, You Should Get a Prenup in Oklahoma
Are prenups for suckers? Do you only need one if you’re rich? Will it lead to divorce? In a word, no. In two words, definitely no.
There are a lot of misconceptions in Oklahoma about prenuptial agreements (prenups for short). Some believe that prenups are only for rich people. Others think that their prenup can decide what happens to their children or can be written after the marriage. There are even people who are convinced that having a prenup will ruin the relationship.
To put it plainly, all of these folks are wrong. Prenups can benefit Oklahomans from Guymon to Hugo no matter how much money they have. They can decide how your property and debts will be divided if you have to get divorced. But there are limits to what a prenup can do. Read through this post to learn everything you need to know about prenuptial agreements and why you should have one.
Basics of Divorce Law
To really understand Oklahoma prenups, you need to know how divorce courts in this state divide property and debts and award alimony when there isn’t a prenup.
The divorce court will have to fairly divide all of the couple’s property. But there are two types of property in a divorce that get treated very differently. First, there is separate property, which only belongs to one spouse. Each spouse gets to keep their separate property and it doesn’t get considered any more than that. Second, there is joint property. Joint property belongs to both spouses and the court must divide that type of property fairly.
The basic rule of thumb is that all property acquired by each spouse before the marriage remains their separate property after the marriage. Similarly, almost all property gained after the marriage is considered joint property. However, these basic rules get much more complicated when you start getting into the details.
For example, if one spouse has a separate piece of property (like a house) before the marriage, but they put it in both spouses’ names after the marriage, then it becomes joint property. Also, while most property acquired during the marriage is joint, there are exceptions for things like inheritances or gifts. But even then, there are exceptions to the exceptions depending on how the property is inherited or gift, or how the spouses treat it after it is received.
As you can see, property division can get very complex very quickly. Debts get treated in pretty much the same way. Alimony is another complicated area of divorce law.
Divorce is always hard, but it is harder when one spouse relied on the other to pay all the bills and bring in all the money. Suddenly, the spouse who didn’t make as much money has to pay their own bills. Alimony is meant to help the spouse with less money make an easier transition to single life. The spouse who made more money is ordered to pay the other spouse a certain amount over a certain period of time. Alimony is never guaranteed and there are many factors the court will consider in deciding whether to award alimony or not.
These laws are applied the same in every divorce case… unless you have a prenuptial agreement. Prenups, also called ante-nuptial agreements, are recognized by Oklahoma law as the one exception to all of these rules about property, debt, and alimony.
Basics of Prenups
There is no set form that an Oklahoma prenuptial agreement has to take, but there are certain requirements it has to follow.
A prenup must be in writing. It has to be signed by both spouses. They each need to have a lawyer to consult with and sign the prenup, or a statement in it saying they waive their right to talk to an attorney. The law on property and debt division and alimony needs to be recited. There must be a full disclosure of each spouse’s assets.
Spouses who follow these requirements can change the standard law in pretty much any way they want. They can keep certain pieces of property separate regardless of whose names they are in. They can account for how property they haven’t acquired yet can be dealt with. They can waive or guarantee the payment of alimony.
Even if the terms would never otherwise be considered by a court or would be considered unfair, they are enforceable if the above requirements are met. Prenups can only be avoided on a few narrow grounds like fraud and duress. But even those have their limits.
Nothing is ever certain in a divorce case. But when you have a prenup, you are virtually guaranteed to know how the judge will make decisions about your property, debt, and alimony. This predictability is one of the major benefits of a prenup. If you have to get divorced, you will make your life a lot easier with a prenup.
Prenups are helpful even if the couple never gets divorced. It forces both of you to think about important things like what to do if one or both of you inherits something valuable. It helps you set expectations for each other during the marriage. Who is going to work? How will the bills be paid? Knowing these things before you get married can save you a lot of headache down the road. Prenups can also have estate planning features, so you can rest easy knowing that your children will be taken care of if something happens to you.
Limits of a Prenup
As useful as they can be, Oklahoma places some limits on ante-nuptial agreements. As stated above, a court does not have to enforce a prenup if there was fraud. That is why it is so important that each spouse make a full disclosure of their debts and assets.
Prenups also cannot make any decisions about children. In Oklahoma, the judge has wide discretion to make decisions about child custody, visitation, and child support and they must make those decisions in the best interests of the children. Any part of the prenup that tries to make agreements about these issues will not be enforced.
Additionally, the prenup must be signed before the marriage takes place. There is no such thing as a postnup. It’s unclear if you can even modify a valid prenup in Oklahoma after the marriage. There is, however, no time limit on how long the prenup has to be signed before the marriage. At least one court in Oklahoma enforced a prenup that was signed immediately before the ceremony.
Save Money, Time, and Your Marriage
As you can see, there are many benefits to getting an Oklahoma prenup. It can save you time, money, and maybe even your relationship. Compared to the cost of divorce, prenups are quite affordable. They are ultimately contracts and many attorneys will write one for an affordable, fixed cost.
You may not think you need one because you don’t have a lot of money. But, you never know how life will turn out. You may start a successful business, inherit some unexpected money, or make a smart investment.
You may be worried about how your fiancé will react if you tell them you want a prenup. You may think that it will make it more likely that you will get divorced. But there is nothing to fear. If your relationship is strong and stable, your future spouse will understand why having a prenup is a good idea.
And there is simply no truth to the idea that a prenup will guarantee your marriage ends in divorce. A study from Harvard Law School found that half of all marriages end in divorce ….but only five percent of couples have a prenup. So there is no correlation between the two. Infidelity, abuse, and poor communication are much more likely to end a marriage than some piece of paper.
Even if you never need to use your Oklahoma prenuptial agreement, going through the process of creating one can strengthen your relationship and set you and your spouse on the path to marital success.
If you need an experienced family law attorney to write your prenup or even if you just want to talk about the possibility of having one, contact the Law Office of Evan Humphreys today.
The content of this post is provided for informational purposes only and is not intended to be taken as legal advice.