Pre-nuptial Agreements


Many mistakenly believe that Pre-nuptial Agreements are exclusively for the rich and famous. However, Pre-nuptial Agreements ("Pre-nups") are appropriate for many engaged couples. A Pre-nup is simply an agreement to alter some of the rights the law grants to married couples. A Pre-nup typically has one or more of the following objectives:

  • Protect the assets and property for children from previous marriages.

  • Protect inherited and gifted property from unintended division with the new spouse.

  • Reassure business partners and members of a closely held family business.

  • Identify and quantify separate property brought to the marriage.

The two principal areas covered in a Pre-nup are the death of one of the parties or a divorce. If a Pre-nup is not in place, the court will fall back on probate and/or domestic relation guidelines to determine the distribution of assets; which may not be consistent with the wishes or understanding of each party.


The Supreme Court of Ohio addressed the validity of Pre-nups in a case entitled Gross v. Gross (1984), 11 Ohio St.3d 99, 464 N.E.2d 500, which held that Pre-nups are binding and enforceable provided there is full and complete financial disclosure in the agreement, and there was no fraud, coercion or undue influence when the Pre-nuptial Agreement was entered. However, the Gross case clearly pointed out that spousal support is governed by a statute, which sets forth fourteen factors for the court's consideration when awarding spousal support. Taking the facts and circumstances at the time of divorce into consideration, the court may find the Pre-nup to be unfair, and may make a spousal support order it deems appropriate.


Pre-nups traditionally involve a couple with a spouse who has considerably more assets and/or income than the other. Pre-nups are sophisticated documents that are carefully drafted and constructed to meet the goals of the client. Full disclosure must be made regarding current income, debts and the identification of assets. To avoid the possibility that a Pre-nup may be determined to be the result fraud, duress or coercion, it is important to avoid last minute agreements and to have the document prepared and reviewed by the couple's respective attorneys at least 90 days prior to the wedding.


If you are contemplating marriage and you believe a Pre-nuptial Agreement necessary, you must plan ahead and begin the process well in advance of the wedding day. Please call 216.225.9181, Email, or use the contact form to schedule a consultation.