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Prenuptial Agreements – What Are They And Why Would You Need One?

Although by some assessments divorce rates are in decline, a significant percentage of marriages still end in divorce.  No one likes to think about what would happen in a divorce when they are in love and planning to be married.  Prenuptial agreements, it is presumed, are either for the very wealthy or people who are hedging their bets.  In fact, virtually anyone can benefit from having a prenup in place, and the process of negotiating one can help you and your future spouse get to know each other better by taking a hard look at your present and your future. Read on for more information about this valuable tool.

What is a prenuptial agreement?

Prenuptial agreements in Florida are governed by Florida’s version of the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (Fl. Stat. §61.079).  The statute defines a premarital agreement as “an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective on marriage.”  Note that with the advent of nationwide same-sex marriage, prenuptial agreements are available to same-sex couples as well.  To be enforceable, a prenup must be in writing and signed by both parties.  Additionally, each party must make a full and fair disclosure of all financial and other material circumstances at the time the agreement is made.  Unlike other contracts, a premarital agreement does not have to be supported by consideration other than the marriage, meaning that couples do not need to exchange something of value for their prenup to be valid.

A prenup is effective once the parties are married.  Thereafter, it can be amended, abandoned, or revoked only by written agreement of both parties.

What can a prenuptial agreement cover?

The statute permits a prenup to deal with a broad spectrum of issues, including:

  • Property division;
  • Spousal support;
  • Making a will, trust, or other agreement as necessary to carry out the agreement;
  • Distribution of death benefits from a life insurance policy;
  • Division of debts held separately or accrued during the marriage;
  • What state’s law will govern the agreement; and
  • Any other matter not illegal or against public policy.

However, a prenup cannot establish child support for children of the marriage. Additionally, if a premarital agreement limits or eliminates a right to spousal support such that one party would be forced to rely on public aid at the time of divorce, the court may order the other party to provide support sufficient to prevent that occurrence.

Why have a prenuptial agreement?

Experts offer a variety of reasons to have a premarital agreement, such as:

  • To protect assets owned separately prior to the marriage – for example, a business, or property inherited from family;
  • To preserve an inheritance for a child from a previous relationship;
  • To establish alimony ahead of time, particularly when the parties contemplate one spouse giving up a career and thus earning power to stay home with children; and
  • To protect one party from responsibility for debt accrued by the other.

Consult an Orlando prenuptial agreement attorney

If you are contemplating marriage and have concerns about how your assets might fare in a divorce, an experienced family lawyer can answer your questions and help you determine whether a prenuptial agreement is appropriate in your circumstances.  The skilled attorneys of Cotter & Zelman, P.A., represent clients across central Florida in a wide variety of family law matters with sensitivity and a focus on economic and efficient outcomes.  Contact us for a consultation today.

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