In addition to a romantic relationship, marriage is also a financial relationship. Smart couples should consider at least some of the financial implications of their marriage before the ceremony.
Once a couple marries, the law decides who inherits how much of the assets if one of the spouses dies and also determines how the property should be divided in a divorce. These laws attempt to make things fair for all parties but some couples prefer to have more control. A marital agreement could solidify your decisions about these issues.
If you plan to be married soon, consider speaking with a Florida prenuptial agreement lawyer in Coral Gables as soon as possible. It is important to get your marriage off to a good start by being clear about what should happen in the event of a divorce.
Property Division Basics
If a couple divorces without a prenuptial agreement, a court will decide on an equitable distribution of marital property, which is everything the couple acquired since the marriage. Assets and debts that an individual had upon entering the marriage remain theirs alone. In addition, inheritances and gifts that one spouse received from a third party are the individual property of that person.
If a couple buys a house while married, the house is considered marital property even if one spouse supplied the entire down payment and pays the mortgage. Anything that the couple acquires while married, except gifts and inheritances, becomes marital property regardless of whose money paid for it.
Equitable distribution upon divorce does not mean that property is split half and half, but it requires a division that is fair under the circumstances. Rather than allow a Judge to decide what is fair, a couple could make a prenuptial agreement that divides property in a way that seems fair to them.
What a Prenuptial Agreement Could Cover
A prenuptial agreement could cover virtually any asset, debt, or circumstance that a couple might imagine. An experienced Coral Gables attorney could work with a couple in Florida to identify their concerns and draft an agreement that addresses them.
For example, if one spouse has children from a previous relationship, there might be specific marital assets the parent wants their children to inherit rather than their spouse. If the other party agrees, a premarital contract could reflect that agreement. Another common section of prenuptial agreements allows a business owner to retain a complete interest in their business if the couple divorces. Without this agreement, a business owner might need to sell or liquidate a business to satisfy the spouse’s right to have an equitable share of the marital assets.
However, the agreement must be fair in order to be enforceable. The fiancé of the business owner mentioned above could not sign away the rights to any share of the business and allow the owner to keep it clear of any claim. A court could find that agreement to be unfair and decided to void it. Instead, a prenuptial agreement might, for example, produce a formula for the owner to share the profits of the business over time, or the couple could decide on some other form of compensation that makes sense for them.
Challenging a Prenuptial Agreement
Florida law establishes that a prenuptial agreement is enforceable if it is written and both parties signed the document in front of witnesses. Although the parties craft and sign a prenuptial agreement before their marriage, it takes only effect upon the marriage.
Courts uphold pre-marital agreements unless a party proves that the agreement should be void for a specific reason. The party seeking to invalidate the agreement must prove that they did not voluntarily sign the document because they were under duress, or because the other spouse used pressure tactics or coercion to induce them to sign. A judge could void an agreement for fraud if one party did not truthfully disclose their assets or liabilities before the other party signed the agreement.
A Coral Gables attorney could ensure that both parties have a fair opportunity to review the agreement and consider what it means before signing. By taking these steps, it ensures that the document will hold up in court if the other party challenges it.
Speak with a Florida Prenuptial Agreement Attorney in Coral Gables Today
When it is time for you and your fiancé to get serious about discussing your financial expectations as a married couple, an experienced attorney can lead the conversation. Understanding each partner’s concerns enables a legal professional to draft a valid agreement that reflects the couple’s expectations.
Do not try to manage this important process without legal advice. Seek counsel from a Florida prenuptial agreement attorney in Coral Gables before you sign away your rights.