Prenups – The What and Why

A premarital agreement (also known as an antenuptial or prenuptial agreement) is a contract between intended spouses made in contemplation of marriage. The premarital agreement dates back to sixteenth century England. Although Oklahoma statutes recognize in general the validity of premarital agreements, case law has changed over time as to the allowable subject matter of such agreements.

The reasons a prospective married couple might want a premarital agreement are as varied as human perception can allow. Some examples are:

  • To preserve rights of inheritance for others, such as children from a prior marriage;
  • To establish property and alimony rights of parties in the event of marital dissolution;
  • To define, to the extent valid, the respective domestic responsibilities of the new marital partners;
  • To outline anticipated arrangements that justify an agreed variance from constitutional and statutory rights;
  • To put in writing the disclosure and discussion by the parties about their respective estates, and expectations as to how those separate estates will be managed during the marriage.
  • To identify ownership of separate property for the purpose of protecting title;
  • To prevent undue surprise between spouses, including the economic aspects of new relationships both during marriage, and upon termination by dissolution or divorce.

Negotiating a premarital agreement with your intended can be a positive thing.  It will be a benchmark for how you will handle difficult conversations after you’re married.  It will foster a sense of full disclosure and fair play.  Properly negotiated and drawn, a premarital agreement can strengthen the marriage relationship.