Governor DeWine recently signed a bill into law that legalizes postnuptial agreements in Ohio. This allows married couples to enter into legally binding agreements after they marry, similar to executing a prenuptial agreement before marriage.
Supporters applaud the move as a method of saving troubled marriages, something that family law attorneys in other states have recognized for some time. 48 other states already allowed these types of agreements, enabling couples who feel insecure about putting provisions in place to protect themselves.
What’s Allowed Under the New Law
The details of the new legislation are set out in Revised Senate Bill 210, which passed on December 1 and was sent to the governor on December 17 of 2022. Among other things, the law allows married couples to:
- Terminate or modify an existing prenuptial agreement between them
- Execute an agreement that alters their legal relations with each other
- Agree to separation and make provisions for support and division of property during the separation
However, the terms of the agreement may not “promote or encourage” divorce. A postnuptial agreement is viewed as a tool to stabilize the relationship of a couple that wants to at least attempt to remain married. It should not be considered a stepping stone toward divorce, but if a couple does end up divorcing later, the terms in their postnuptial agreement can protect their property and other interests in the interim.
What’s Required for a Valid Postnuptial Agreement
For a postnuptial agreement to be legally binding and valid, both parties must agree willingly, and neither can be forced to sign under duress. Both parties must understand the nature and value of their property and have full knowledge of the extent of that property.
In addition, the agreement must be in writing and must be signed by both spouses. It must be notarized when rights to real property are affected. And, ideally, both spouses should have a meaningful opportunity to consult with counsel regarding the impact of the agreement and its terms, before executing the agreement.
How a Postnuptial Agreement Can Preserve a Marriage
Circumstances change throughout life, and sometimes the changes cause problems for married couples. A situation can cause one spouse to lose faith in the other. For instance, if it comes to light that one spouse has a gambling problem, the other can be fearful of remaining legally bound to a spouse with financially dangerous propensities. This couple could execute a postnuptial agreement specifying that future gambling debts belong solely to that spouse, and specifying terms for reimbursing the other spouse for previous losses.
If one partner operates a business, a postnuptial agreement could specify that the business is that spouse’s separate property so that potential business investors are not concerned about ownership uncertainty in the future. If the addition of children changed the assumptions on which a prenuptial agreement was founded, the new law allows couples to adjust their legal arrangement to suit new priorities.
Talk to Weis Law Group to Learn More About the Benefits a Postnuptial Agreement Could Provide
The team at Weis Law Group is excited about the new opportunities married couples will now have to make their plans and solidify their arrangements to suit current needs. If you would like to talk to us about developing a postnuptial agreement or changing the terms of your prenuptial agreement, contact us at your convenience.