You may already be familiar with the terms pre-nuptial (prenup) and post-nuptial (postnup) agreement. These are both forms of marital agreements, which are contracts between a married couple. These documents usually set forth the couple’s desires about how property and other assets will transfer if they divorce or one of them dies. A separation agreement is another type of contract that might occur.
Florida law has specific rules about inheritance and property division in a divorce. Couples who prefer a different division than the law calls for can use a marital contract to outline their intentions. If the marriage agreement meets all legal requirements, a court will enforce it even if the law would typically direct another arrangement.
If you are married or engaged, having a trustworthy family attorney draft one of these agreements is essential in ensuring you, your spouse, and your families are protected. Get in touch with a Florida marital agreement lawyer in Coral Gables today to further explore your options.
Common Mistakes That Could Void a Marital Agreement
Florida courts will enforce a marital agreement that fulfills all the legal requirements of a valid contract. They must be in writing, signed by both parties, and witnessed by two people, or it will not be legally binding.
Both parties must voluntarily enter the contract. If one party feels pressure or coercion, they could argue later that they did not sign the arrangement of their own free will. If a court questions whether each individual willingly signed the marital agreement, it could void the contract. Additionally, if one spouse has more wealth or power than the other one, a Judge might seek evidence that the spouse in the weaker position had competent, independent legal counsel to advise them before signing the agreement. Working with a Coral Gables marital agreement attorney can help even the playing field.
Courts will also consider whether the contract itself is improper. An improper or unconscionable agreement leaves all the benefits to one party without fair compensation to the other. A marital agreement often does not call for an equal split of the couple’s property upon divorce. However, it must allow the spouse in the more vulnerable position to retain reasonable benefits from the marriage.
Other Requirements for Valid Marital Agreements
Each spouse must fully disclose their assets and liabilities before signing a marital agreement. If an individual hides this information, the parties do not have an accurate sense of their financial position, which would make it incredibly difficult to determine whether a specific agreement is fair. If a spouse can prove that the other person intentionally hid assets or debts, Florida courts could declare the document to be fraudulent and refuse to uphold it.
An enforceable agreement also requires clear language stating “consideration.” Consideration refers to goods, money, or rights that one party gets in return for giving up something else. For example, once married, both individuals have a right to an equitable distribution of marital property. If a marital agreement reduces or diminishes that right, the spouse who accepts less of that property should then get something of value in return.
Florida Statutes § 732.702(2) require a court to void a marital agreement if it lacks appropriate consideration. A marital agreements attorney in Coral Gables can work with a client to determine appropriate consideration so that a contract remains valid.
Seek Advice from a Florida Marital Agreement Attorney in Coral Gables Today
Thinking of worst-case scenarios such as death or divorce can be unpleasant. However, being proactive about your future is a critical step that you should not avoid. If you and your spouse would like a contract in place that will guide your actions in case you separate or divorce, a Florida marital agreement lawyer in Coral Gables can help. Call The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation.