Prenuptial agreements, also called “premarital agreements” in the state of Florida, are legally binding contracts between prospective spouses. These agreements serve various purposes, including financial planning, wealth protection, protection of family assets, preservation of the intended financial arrangements and final wishes in case of divorce or death, and prevention of court interference in private matters during a divorce.
While not everyone signs these agreements, they are more common for high-net-worth couples because they often have substantial assets, complex financial portfolios, and intricate family dynamics that can benefit from the clarity and protection provided by prenuptial agreements.
What Issues Can Prenuptial Agreements Address?
In Florida, couples can use prenuptial contracts to enter into any agreements that don’t violate the law or public policy. Typically, these agreements focus on each spouse’s financial rights and responsibilities during and after the marriage.
Prenuptial agreements in Florida often cover the following issues:
- How each spouse will handle or control property during the marriage.
- Property division in the event of divorce, death, or other significant occurrences.
- Whether one spouse will provide alimony during separation or divorce, specifying the amount and duration.
- The fate of each spouse’s retirement plans or pensions.
- The handling of proceeds from life insurance policies.
- Whether either spouse is obligated to create a will to execute the agreement’s terms.
- Determination of the state laws that will govern the interpretation of the agreement, if needed.
It’s important to note that a prenuptial agreement cannot impact child custody or child support matters in Florida. The court determines child support calculations based on the parent’s current financial capacities and the child’s immediate needs during separation or divorce. The right to child support is considered a responsibility to the child and cannot be waived through agreements.
Similarly, child custody decisions are made based on the child’s best interests at the time of separation or divorce. If parents wish to agree on child support or custody arrangements, they may do so during divorce or separation proceedings, subject to approval by the court.
How to Ensure the Validity of Your Prenuptial Agreement in Florida
In Florida, the enforceability of prenuptial agreements is often determined by the Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act (UPAA), which the state adopted in 2007. This act establishes guidelines for courts to assess the validity of prenuptial agreements.
Despite the recognition of prenuptial agreements, there are several reasons why a court might choose not to enforce them in the state:
Absence of a Written and Signed Agreement
A prenuptial agreement in Florida must be in writing and signed by both parties to be considered valid. An oral or verbal agreement holds no legal weight and will not be enforced by the court. Therefore, a judge may dismiss it without a properly drafted, formal, and signed prenuptial agreement.
Failure to Provide Full and Fair Disclosure
While Florida permits parties to enter into premarital agreements, it also mandates full and fair disclosures. Parties involved in a prenuptial agreement should transparently reveal the extent of their property, assets, and debts before signing. Failure to make proper disclosures, whether intentional or unintentional, could jeopardize the validity of the agreement in a Florida court.
Coercion or Duress During Signing
Prenuptial agreements in Florida can be invalidated if signed under duress or coercion. For instance, if one party exerted significant pressure on their partner to sign the agreement before marriage, the court may deem it unenforceable. Cases involving coercion or duress are intricate and fact-intensive, often requiring the assistance of experienced family lawyers.
Inclusion of Unlawful Terms
Prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements in Florida are governed by specific legal boundaries outlined in Florida Statutes §61.079. These agreements can only address certain matters, such as property division. If a prenup includes terms related to unlawful matters, such as a prospective right or elimination of child custody, child visitation, or child support, a Florida judge may discard or modify all or part of the agreement that deals with those issues.
Considering these factors and being proactive is important when dealing with prenuptial agreements in Florida. It’s a good idea to consider seeking guidance from experienced family lawyers to help ensure that your agreement is valid and enforceable, especially in case of any changes or disagreements in your marriage.
The Campbell Law Group’s Unique Blend of Business and Family Law Experience
High net-worth divorces involve complex legal issues requiring specific knowledge of business and family law topics. At The Campbell Law Group P.A., we have extensive experience in various legal areas, including corporate law, commercial law and family law.
This broad and extensive legal experience and skills enables us to handle the complexities of the intersection of financial and familial matters in high net-worth divorces. Our dedicated team is committed to offering personalized legal solutions, ensuring the protection of our client’s assets and interests throughout the divorce process.
Frequently Asked Questions
Do both parties need separate attorneys when creating a prenuptial agreement in Florida?
While it’s not required, it is highly recommended for each party to have their own independent legal representation to ensure fairness and that both parties fully understand the agreement’s implications.
Can a prenuptial agreement be modified after marriage?
Prenuptial agreements can be modified after marriage, but any changes must be made through a written agreement signed by both parties.
What happens if there is no prenuptial agreement in place during a divorce in Florida?
In the absence of a prenuptial agreement, Florida follows the principles of equitable distribution, meaning marital assets are divided fairly but not necessarily equally.
Can a prenuptial agreement address future acquired assets?
Prenuptial agreements in Florida have the flexibility to specify how assets acquired during the marriage will be treated in the event of a divorce.
Are business interests covered in a prenuptial agreement in Florida?
A prenuptial agreement can address business interests, detailing how ownership, control, and valuation will be managed in the event of a divorce.
Is there a waiting period for a prenuptial agreement to be valid in Florida?
Although there’s no specific waiting period, it is advisable to finalize the agreement well before the wedding to eliminate any appearance of coercion and ensure its validity.
Can a prenuptial agreement include provisions for personal behavior during the marriage?
Prenuptial agreements in Florida are primarily focused on financial matters. However, the parties can include clauses regulating personal behavior, but the personal behaviour is usually tied to a financial penalty or loss. Further, depending on the kind of personal behavior and penalty associated therewith, the courts may struck down the provision as being unenforceable.
Can a prenuptial agreement address spousal responsibilities and roles within the marriage?
Prenuptial agreements in Florida are centered around financial matters, addressing spousal responsibilities and roles within the marriage generally falls outside the scope of such agreements, unless it relates to the parties understanding and explanations of financial matters. For instance, it is possible to waive your right to alimony in the event both parties equally share in the parental responsibility of raising the children and have a provision that provides for alimony for the spouse that by agreement of the parties stays home with the children to be the primary caretaker instead of working. As with any provision in a prenuptial agreement, the Court always has discretion to find a provision to be unenforceable or unlawful.
How is debt handled in a prenuptial agreement in Florida?
A prenuptial agreement has the flexibility to outline how existing debts and future liabilities will be allocated between spouses in the event of a divorce, providing clarity on this crucial aspect.