A "prenuptial" agreement, also known as an "antenuptial" agreement is a document a man and a woman prepare prior to getting married that clearly defines what will happen to each party's assets in the event of divorce. In Oklahoma, judicial rulings have set the legal precedent for their application, which is proscribed in Chapter 43 of the state's revised statutes.
Although the statutes themselves make only scant mention of antenuptial agreements, their appearance in divorce trials affirms their legality. One such example is the 2004 case of Griffin vs. Griffin, wherein the parameters for such legality come into play--in order for a couple's antenuptial agreement to be valid, the ruling asserts, it must be signed in good faith, free of "fraud, duress, coercion [and/or] overreaching."
The court goes on to assert that "[Oklahoma] law favors these agreements as fostering marriage, since couples might choose not to marry without assurances that they will be free to order their affairs as they wish."
Section 43-121 sets forth guidelines for the application of antenuptial agreements in Oklahoma divorces. With regard to property couples acquire together while married, the law allows the court to to "effect a fair and just division" according to the written antenuptial agreement. Additionally, if children are involved, the court "may set apart a portion of the separate estate of a spouse to the other spouse for the support of the children of the marriage where custody resides with that spouse."
Oklahoma's law also provides for the maintenance of separate property after marriage exclusive of any antenuptial agreement. Section 43.203 states that "except as mentioned [with regarding to supporting the other spouse], neither husband nor wife has any interest in the separate property of the other."
Section 43.207 expands upon this, noting that "a full and complete inventory of the separate personal property of either spouse may be made out and signed by such spouse and recorded in the office of the county clerk."
Section 43.208 concretely separates spouses' debts and liabilities. Specifically, the "separate property of the husband (or wife) is liable for the debts of the husband (or wife) contracted before or after marriage, but is not liable for the debts of the wife (or husband) contracted before the marriage." The law implies that debts incurred during the marriage will be dealt with as per the aforementioned antenuptial agreement, if there is one.
- Oklahoma Statutes Section 43.208: Liability for Acts and Debts of the Other Spouse
- Oklahoma Statutes Section 43.203: Separate Property-Exclusion from Dwelling Prohibited
- Oklahoma Statutes Section 43.207: Husband and Wife-Joint Tenants, Tenants in Common or Community Property-Separate Property-Inventory and Filing
- Oklahoma Statutes Section 43.121: Restoration of Maiden or Former Name; Alimony; Division of Property
- Oklahoma Supreme Court: Griffin vs. Griffin
- Oklahoma state contour against blurred USA flag image by Stasys Eidiejus from Fotolia.com