When billionaire, Harold Hamm wedded his wife, Sue Ann, 26 years ago, the couple did not sign a prenuptial agreement. During what Reuters called the biggest divorce settlement in history, the lack of a prenuptial agreement between the Oklahoma couple threatened to jeopardize the oil mogul’s fortune. Despite predictions that Mrs. Hamm would be awarded nearly half of the $20.2 billion estimated worth, the judge only awarded her $995.5 million, to be paid in installments.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
Many are familiar with the idea of prenuptial agreements, which are also commonly referred to as premarital agreements or prenups. These agreements were once considered documents necessary for only wealthy couples who were getting married, or when one spouse-to-be came into the marriage with more cash or assets than the other. However, today, more and more middle-class couples are signing prenuptial agreements to define how assets will be divided if the marriage ends up in divorce court, so they are not as much for the wealthy anymore, but for people who want to ensure they do not lose what they came into the marriage with. These written agreements are considered binding contracts and are often challenging to negate.
The Oklahoma courts recognize prenuptial agreements as irrevocable contracts, however, there are still ways in which to challenge such a contract. Less common grounds to challenge a prenuptial agreement include fraud and mistake, however, this is also rather tough to prove.
The following are more common grounds for challenging a prenuptial agreement:
- Duress – While the word duress would imply someone signed the agreement by coercion, it does not have to be as obvious. If, for example, you were given the premarital agreement right before the wedding ceremony and signed it without reading it, you could argue that the document was signed under duress.
- Lack of Full and Fair Disclosure – If one spouse or the other failed to disclose all of their assets at the time of signing the prenuptial agreement, it could be challenged by claiming failure to disclose. Be careful, however, because signed prenuptial agreements often waive the requirement to disclose, making this claim null and void. In order to claim this challenge to a prenuptial agreement, the non-disclosed information must be large enough to meaningfully alter the financial profile of the spouse with the most assets.
- Unconscionability – If a prenuptial agreement obviously favors one spouse or the other, deeming it unfair to one party or the other, you may be able to claim unconscionability. For example, if the prenuptial agreement waived your right to claim most or all of the marital assets, a court could declare the agreement unenforceable or “unconscionable.”
Contact A Legal Representative
If you are considering challenging your preputial agreement or want to determine if the document you signed is unenforceable under Oklahoma law, contact an experienced Oklahoma City divorce attorney. We are prepared to advocate on your behalf to ensure that your rights are protected. Contact our firm by calling 405-232-7980.