Prenuptial agreements can work for any marriage

Oil tycoon's recent divorce shows how a prenup can help avoid unwanted stress

While many people were undoubtedly interested in the size of the recent $1 billion divorce order of an Oklahoma oil tycoon, one of the most surprising aspects of the case was that the couple did not have a prenuptial agreement, according to Reuters. Couples with significant assets often opt for prenuptial agreements as a way of ensuring that their large estates are not divided according to state law in the event of divorce. However, prenuptial agreements can benefit just about any marriage, even those without a multi-billion oil company at stake.

No prenuptial agreement

The fact that this recent divorce case did not include a prenuptial agreement was surprising in many ways, although quite common in other ways as well. While it is certainly unusual for such a high-asset marriage to not include a prenuptial agreement, it is also true that such agreements have only become popular in recent decades. Given that this divorce came after 26 years of marriage, the lack of a prenuptial agreement here is not entirely uncommon.

As a result of the lack of an agreement, however, the couple's marital estate had to be divided according to Oklahoma state law. As such, a judge ruled that the wife was entitled to $1 billion of the couple's fortune. Given, however, that the husband was worth an estimated $18 billion, some analysts say that he got off fairly lightly. The wife, however, disagrees and has vowed to appeal.

Making prenuptial agreements work

Although prenuptial agreements are more common today than they were a few decades ago, they can still be a difficult topic for many couples to confront. Prenuptial agreements, however, have benefits that go well beyond protecting assets. Experts, for example, say that the issues that need to be discussed when drafting a prenuptial agreement can help reveal important aspects about a couple's relationship.

Family law needs

Of course, nobody ever plans to get divorced, but at the same time it is impossible to guarantee that a marriage can avoid divorce altogether. Couples should not consider a prenuptial agreement an indicator of how likely their marriage is to succeed, but simply a prudent decision they make as a couple. When drafting such an agreement, it is important to seek the advice of an experienced family law attorney, who can help couples write an agreement that is enforceable and takes account of their needs and expectations.