When two people get married, they take on legal and financial obligations to each other. Sometimes a couple prefers to decide their obligations rather than let the law decide. Marital agreements can declare how a couple uses and divides their property. Consult a local family attorney for guidance on creating a valid marital agreement and if it meets specific legal requirements, a court will enforce it.
A Coconut Grove marriage agreement lawyer understands how to help you achieve your goals and can draft an agreement for you or review an agreement someone else drafted. Getting a legal opinion before you sign the agreement is essential.
Types of Marriage Agreements
When a married couple gets divorced, a court will divide their marital property (the assets and debts they acquired while married). The court does not need to divide it evenly, it only needs to be fair; however, what seems fair to a Judge might not feel fair to the couple.
A couple can decide about property division themselves through a marital agreement, which can cover what property each spouse claims for themselves as separate property and how they want to divide their marital property. The agreement also may cover whether either spouse could claim alimony if they decide to dissolve their marriage.
Many people think that premarital agreements are only for couples with significant assets, but every couple could benefit from a prenup. Talking through financial issues before marriage can provide clarity and understanding for a couple.
The couple should begin working on a prenup at least several months before the wedding date since it takes time to discuss all the relevant issues and agree on a fair solution. A Coconut Grove attorney should draft the marital agreement, and the other party’s attorney must review it.
The couple must sign the prenup before the wedding but it does not take effect until they are married. If the couple does not go through with the wedding, the agreement never takes effect.
If a couple has a prenup but they have changed their mind about certain provisions, they could create a postnuptial agreement. Postnups can also be beneficial to spouses who never had a prenup. If a couple makes a postnuptial agreement while considering divorce, it could be a separation agreement.
A postnuptial agreement could cover property division and alimony, just like a prenup. The couple has probably accumulated some assets and debts since getting married, so it also could cover life insurance, retirement plans, the family home, and marital debts. If one of the spouses has committed misconduct, such as having an affair, the agreement could assess a financial penalty if they repeat the behavior.
Couples might consider this agreement when they experience a significant event like an inheritance, if they have a disabled child they want to protect, or if one of them receives a difficult diagnosis. Whatever the reason, a Coconut Grove attorney can draft a marital agreement that meets a couple’s needs.
Legal Requirements for Marital Agreements
Couples must follow certain requirements for their marriage agreement to be legal and enforceable. Florida Statutes § 61.079 says the agreements must be written and signed by both parties in front of witnesses or a notary.
Each party must disclose their assets and liabilities to the other party. Inadequate or false disclosures could invalidate the agreement. Each party must have time to consider the agreement and get an opinion from an independent attorney before signing. If one of the parties feels pressure to sign, a court might not enforce the agreement.
Many marriage agreements leave one party in a better financial position than the other. Courts do not require that both parties get equal benefits from a marriage agreement, but if the agreement is extremely unfair and would leave one party suffering financial hardship, a court might set it aside.
Contact a Coconut Grove Marital Agreement Attorney Today
Having a marital contract in place is extremely useful if you decide to later end your marriage. A Coconut Grove marriage agreement lawyer can answer any questions you have about them and assist in drafting it.
If you decide to go forward, a legal professional from The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm can put together an agreement that achieves your goals. Schedule a free consultation with a capable attorney today.