Marital agreements are contracts that describe a couple’s intentions regarding their property, spousal support, and other issues in the event of separation, divorce, or death. Marital agreements can shield assets for the benefit of children, ensure each partner keeps certain property, or provide for a partner to receive continued support.
Any couple or individual can benefit from working with a trusted family attorney to create a marital agreement. The process allows you to explore your beliefs about mingling finances and helps you develop realistic expectations for your financial life together.
However, the agreement must ultimately be enforceable. A Pinecrest marital agreements lawyer can ensure your marital agreement will stand up in court.
Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
A couple looking to settle specific financial matters before marriage can create a prenuptial agreement (also called a “prenup”). These contracts often list the property that each partner claims as personal property and intends to keep if the couple divorces. A prenup can list the parties’ debts and identify them as either personal or marital debts. A prenup can also describe the couple’s decisions regarding life insurance policies, trusts, buying and selling property, and whether either spouse will receive spousal support if they divorce. A prenuptial agreement takes effect when the couple marries.
A couple enters a postnuptial agreement (a “postnup”) after they have married. A postnup can supersede a prenup if the couple wants to change its earlier arrangement regarding property division or spousal support. In other circumstances, the couple might enter a postnup if they anticipate a separation or divorce.
Prenups cannot contain provisions regarding child custody or support but postnups can. As with all issues regarding children, though, the court would consider whether the child custody or support provisions are in the children’s best interest. If the provisions do not meet the best interest standard, the court will reject it.
Legal Requirements for a Valid Marital Agreement
Florida Statutes § 61.079 describes the legal requirements for prenuptial agreements: Both parties must sign the agreement voluntarily, without being pressured or coerced into doing so, and each party must understand the terms of the contract.
Critically, each party must fully disclose their assets and debts before signing the prenup, since one party cannot understand the implications of signing it without complete knowledge of the other party’s financial condition. Similarly, each party should have their own attorney review the agreement and explain its terms. If one party does not have access to independent legal advice, they could have grounds to invalidate the prenup.
The requirements for a postnuptial agreement are similar to those for a prenup, but both spouses must also provide something of value in return for signing the agreement. A Pinecrest marital agreement attorney can advise a spouse about how this works and how they should handle it.
Unconscionability and Marital Agreements
Many couples seek out marital agreements because one spouse has considerably more wealth than the other. They want to ensure they keep a reasonable portion of their wealth if the marriage does not last.
A marital agreement does not need to be equally fair to be enforceable. One party often gives up more than they gain by the agreement. However, if the agreement is extremely one-sided, the court might decide not to enforce it.
A spouse who tries to vacate a marital agreement must typically demonstrate they did not receive an accurate disclosure and did not waive their right to disclosure. If the agreement was postnuptial, the court may consider whether the spouse voluntarily entered into it or whether the other spouse pressured or coerced them. A Pinecrest attorney could advise a spouse about whether a specific marital agreement is at risk of a legal challenge.
Contact a Pinecrest Marital Agreements Attorney for Assistance Today
Marital agreements can help you and your spouse organize your financial life together and anticipate issues that might arise if you eventually separate or divorce. It is easier for a couple to negotiate these issues when they are getting along; waiting until they are actively considering divorce could lead to long negotiations and extra costs.
A Pinecrest marital agreements lawyer can draft an agreement for a couple or review and explain a marital agreement that already exists. Call The Florida Probate & Family Law Firm today to schedule a free consultation.