by Attorney Robert “Chip” Mues, Guest Contributor
We are pleased to welcome Mr. Mues to the Alternative Divorce Solutions blog. He writes below about legal considerations under Ohio’s recent recognition of postnuptial agreements.
I have primarily practiced divorce and family law work in Montgomery County and throughout Southwest Ohio for 40+ years. I have now had to add a new alternative to obtaining a divorce or dissolution when I meet with new clients who are having marital issues. What is that option you ask? How about considering creating a postnuptial agreement instead of terminating your marriage?
What is a Postnuptial Agreement?
Perhaps you thought about getting a prenuptial agreement before you “tied the knot.” You didn’t for one reason or another. Or, maybe you did, but things have changed since then, and you would love to make some modifications to it. Well now Ohioans can! Up until the end of March Ohio did not allow for postnuptial agreements.
Like a prenuptial agreement executed before marriage, a postnuptial agreement can create certainty to your life and clearly set forth what happens in the event of a divorce or your death. Will there be any spousal support/alimony? How will marital and separate property be divided? How are children from a previous relationship to be provided for upon your death? Each of these can be addressed in either a pre- or postnuptial agreement.
Key Elements of an Ohio Postnuptial Agreement
A well-crafted postnuptial agreement can cover and “nail down” a multitude of issues or concerns, with the exception of custody or any illegal activities. Otherwise, these versatile agreements can be drafted as desired, as long as both parties were represented by lawyers in the process and there was full disclosure of all assets and debts by both parties.
To learn more, read a blog article I wrote about these contracts for the Ohio Family Law Blog on February 25, 2023.
Why Might a Postnuptial Agreement be a Viable Alternative to a Divorce?
I can’t tell you how many times a potential new divorce client tells me at their initial conference, “Man, I sure wish we had done a prenuptial agreement before we got married.” Then, after I explain Ohio law including how Courts divide marital assets, retirement accounts, and how spousal support/alimony is calculated, I often hear that same statement of remorse again. Then it is followed by their head shaking and I hear “Wow that just doesn’t seem right.” Now that you have had the benefit of experiencing married life, this new Ohio law gives you an opportunity to define what is “right” for you both in the event of a divorce or death. In addition, this contract can amend or revoke a prenuptial agreement or perhaps create binding terms of oral promises you have made to each other since becoming married.
On March 25, 2023, Alyssa Miller, the Managing Director of Alternative Divorce Solutions, submitted a guest blog on this topic to the Ohio Family Law Blog. Ms. Miller wisely discussed how a postnuptial agreement could be extremely beneficial for business owners or for estate planning and inheritance purposes.
Where to Find More Information about Utilizing a Postnuptial Agreement
There has been a scarcity of public information thus far about this new law. Ohio professionals need to learn about it and the multitude of ways it can be helpful. Once more lawyers, financial planners, accountants, doctors, therapists, ministers, and the public at large become educated about postnuptial agreements, it will become widely used.
Contacting Alyssa Miller is an excellent resource and an excellent point of contact for more information. Alternatively, some family law and estate planning lawyers are knowledgeable about this new legal tool. The Dayton law Firm of Holzfaster, Cecil, McKnight & Mues offers a postnuptial resource page. Attorney Joe Balmer, a certified specialist in probate, trusts, and estate planning work can assist. Or, I would be glad to share my insights if you are coming at the concept from a possible divorce perspective. We are both very willing to share with clients how a postnuptial agreement might be a good solution rather that jumping into a divorce.