When couples are preparing to get married, many thoughts are on their minds: their wedding, the honeymoon, and the start of their new life together. But it is also always wise to reflect on the practical side of marriage. Most people think about marriage as a lifelong commitment, but in fact, about half of all first marriages end in divorce, and 67% of all second marriages and 73% of all third marriages are also dissolved. As a result, it is often important, and sometimes downright necessary to consider the possibility of a future divorce and how assets and debts might be divided in the event of a dissolution of marriage. One way to prepare for such a possibility is to create a prenuptial agreement, also known as a “premarital agreement” in Florida. Here is what you should know about how prenuptial agreements work in Florida, and when couples should consider creating one.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract between two individuals who plan to marry. This agreement outlines how the couple will divide their assets and debts if they decide to divorce. Prenuptial agreements can address many different issues, including property division, spousal support, and inheritance rights.
A prenuptial agreement can protect each spouse’s assets. For example, if one spouse owns a business or has significant assets, a prenuptial agreement can ensure that those assets remain with that spouse. Additionally, a prenuptial agreement can specify how much spousal support will be paid or it can even waive spousal support altogether.
Prenuptial agreements are not just for the wealthy; they can be useful for any couple who wants to protect their assets and make things less complicated in the event of a divorce.
How Does a Prenuptial Agreement Work?
Under Florida law, prenuptial agreements are governed by the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. This law establishes the requirements for creating a valid prenuptial agreement, including that the agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. Both parties must also voluntarily enter into the agreement and must have full knowledge of the other’s finances. Finally, the agreement must be entered into voluntarily and not under duress, fraud, coercion, or overreaching.
When Should Couples Consider a Prenuptial Agreement?
Couples should consider a prenuptial agreement in a variety of situations. If one spouse has significantly more assets than the other, a prenuptial agreement can protect those assets in the event of a divorce. Additionally, if one spouse has children from a previous relationship or marriage, a prenuptial agreement can ensure that those children’s assets and inheritance rights are protected.
Prenuptial agreements can also be beneficial for couples who have different views on finances. For example, if one spouse is a spender and the other is a saver, a prenuptial agreement can specify how the couple will handle finances during the marriage, and how assets will be divided if they decide to divorce.
Finally, couples who own businesses or have professional practices should also consider a prenuptial agreement. These types of assets can be difficult to divide in a divorce, and a prenuptial agreement can help ensure that they remain with the spouse who owns them.
What Can’t Be Included in a Prenuptial Agreement?
While prenuptial agreements can address many different issues, there are some things that cannot be included. For example, child custody and child support cannot be determined in a prenuptial agreement. These issues must be decided at the time of the divorce, based on the best interests of the child.
Additionally, prenuptial agreements cannot be used to waive certain rights, such as the right to temporary alimony. While a prenuptial agreement can waive future alimony, the court will always consider the circumstances of each individual case and may choose to award temporary alimony, regardless of what is specified in a prenuptial agreement, during the divorce and if there is a challenge to the prenuptial agreement.
Benefits of Prenuptial Agreements
There are several benefits to creating a prenuptial agreement. First, it can make the divorce process less complicated and less costly by providing a clear plan for property division and other financial matters. This can also help to reduce stress and conflict during the divorce process. Second, a prenuptial agreement can protect individual assets and help to prevent one spouse from taking advantage of the other. Third and perhaps most importantly, it can provide peace of mind and help to establish trust and transparency in the relationship.
Enforcing a Prenuptial Agreement
To enforce a prenuptial agreement in Florida, the agreement must be deemed valid and enforceable. This means that it must meet all of the legal requirements outlined in the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. If one party believes that the prenuptial agreement is not valid, then they can challenge it in court. Common reasons for challenging a prenuptial agreement include claims of fraud, duress, coercion, or overreaching associated with its development.
In order to avoid a challenge to the validity of the prenuptial agreement, it is important to ensure that both parties understand the terms of the agreement and that it is entered into voluntarily. Both parties should also have their own legal representation and be given ample time to review and negotiate the terms of the agreement.
Protecting Your Rights
Prenuptial agreements can be a helpful tool for protecting each spouse’s assets in the event of a divorce and help make the process less complicated. If you are considering a prenuptial agreement, it’s important to work with an experienced local family law attorney who can help you create an effective premarital agreement. Here at Parra Harris Law, we provide clients in Greater Jacksonville and the Northeast Florida area with decades of well-rounded family law experience. We are passionate advocates on behalf of our clients and are fully bi-lingual. Contact us today.