Jacksonville Prenuptial/Postnuptial Agreement Attorney
Drafting detailed marriage agreements
Many couples in love live with the dream of marriage for life, but statistically it has been shown that there are many cases of divorce filed every day. Currently the lack of love is not the only factor for separation, there are also certain economic and social factors that when they do not work well in the couple, can lead to a divorce between them. A prenuptial agreement/post nuptial agreement can save money, preserve business and property ownership, protect any future inheritances and avoid costly, lengthy and sometimes bitter divorce litigation.
The prenuptial agreement has become a common tool that is increasing in popularity as it is designed to prevent litigation in the event of a broken marriage. As the name suggests, a prenuptial agreement is prepared before the parties marry to provide a pre-arranged amicable arrangement in case the marriage ends in divorce or death. An agreement can be reached after the marriage and in such a case, it is called a post-nuptial agreement. The cost and time of preparing a premarital agreement is far less significant than that of divorce litigation. Just because you are prepared for the worst does not mean the worst will happen. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are simply smart and precautionary measures for both you and your future spouse.
In 2007, Florida passed a law that validates and clarifies the application and enforcement of such agreements. The parties are choosing to enter into these marriage agreements in order to clearly define, in advance, the terms and conditions for the distribution of their assets and debts and to address monetary and non-monetary issues in the event of a divorce or death of one of the spouses. These marital agreements can be complicated agreements within the law as they raise many different and complicated questions. The circumstances, problems and objectives of each couple are different. Each prenuptial/postnuptial agreement must be customized in such a way so that it responds to the particular needs of each client. There is no prenuptial/postnuptial agreement that is standard, as there are many options to consider. It is important to have a clear understanding of your goals and objectives, but it is equally important that you keep your mind open to alternate arrangements that the law or that your lawyer's creativity allows or might suggest.
As a general rule, issues related to minor children, such as parental responsibility, child support, and timesharing can not be pre-determined n a prenuptial/postnuptial agreement, since the Court has the ultimate power to decide what is in the best interest of the minor children. A prenuptial/postnuptial agreement must be made in writing and, for a prenuptial agreement, marriage is the only consideration needed to have a binding agreement. Any amendment, revocation, or abandonment of a prenuptial agreement must be made in writing and signed, but no further consideration is needed.
The law establishes certain requirements that are important to fulfill in order for these agreements to be valid. An agreement could be declared invalid in the future if one of the parties defrauded, coerced, misled the other party or if there was not a complete disclosure of the assets and debts at the time the agreement was signed.
It is important to know that a prenuptial agreement will be valid even if only one of the parties hires a lawyer to review the agreement. The fact that one of the parties is not represented by a lawyer does not justify the invalidation of the agreement.
A prenuptial agreement is an agreement entered into by two people before they get married. This agreement deals with the financial consequences of their marriage in the event of divorce. In the absence of a prenuptial agreement, divorce law controls those consequences. A prenuptial agreement can provide a couple with predictability and control over a divorce. Instead of leaving these issues to the courts to decide, the couple can control their fate.
Here are a number of benefits that are obtained from a prenuptial agreement:
- If one partner is much wealthier than the other, the wealthier partner may want to be sure that the marriage is for love, not just for money. The wealthier partner may want to protect premarital assets and limit the amount of alimony to be paid. The less wealthy partner may want a prenuptial agreement to make sure he/she will be provided for in the event of a divorce.
- When one partner gives up a job or career to raise children, they are
giving up earning potential and may want to make sure they are protected
financially in the event of a divorce. A prenuptial agreement can
equalize the financial burden of raising children.
- If you own a business, you need a prenuptial agreement. The business or any increase in the value of the business may be considered marital and subject to equitable distribution during a divorce. A prenuptial agreement can significantly limit your liability for having to sell or liquidate your business to satisfy your equitable distribution obligations. Alternatively, your spouse could receive shares in your company after the divorce leaving you with an unwanted business partner.
- An inheritance is typically considered non-marital, unless it is
comingled. However, even using marital efforts to manage the money could
make all or a portion of an inheritance marital. If you have received a
large sum of money or are expecting an inheritance, it is a good idea
to get a prenuptial agreement to make sure that the money is protected.
Additionally, a court may impute a reasonable rate of return on any
investments that you may have, even non-marital ones, and consider that
return as income for alimony purposes.
- In the event of your untimely death, you want to make sure that your children are protected and that all of your assets will not pass to your spouse. It is a good idea to ensure that you have both a strong prenuptial agreement and a proper estate plan established to make sure that your children are protected.
- Alimony is one of the most contentious issues during a divorce, which may lead to lengthy and costly litigation. A prenuptial agreement can limit or eliminate any potential alimony dispute. Prenuptial agreements allow you to negotiate and predetermine whether either party will have an alimony obligation. While most people never think that their marriage will lead to a divorce, having a prenuptial agreement in place may save you time and money in the long run.
- If you have previously been through a divorce, you probably already know the importance of having a prenuptial agreement. Additionally, those who are getting married for a second time may have different financial concerns. It is important to ensure any assets that you are bringing into the marriage are protected and eliminate any potential claim that those assets are marital.
- Save time and money on legal fees in case of divorce since everything has been agreed to in advance.
More and more people are considering entering into a postnuptial agreement – also known as a reconciliation contract – in order to take a pause before moving forward with divorce, especially in states like Florida, where the law does not provide an avenue for formal, legal separation.
A postnuptial agreement is a voluntary contract much like a prenuptial agreement except it is made after a marriage. A postnuptial agreement can remove disagreement between spouses over assets, children, and finances and can help strengthen a marriage. Postnuptial agreements are made in the event of separation, or if one spouse wants to start a business, or is a spouse receives an inheritance. Substantial changes in assets can create a need for a postnuptial agreement or a revision of a premarital agreement.
To be enforceable, a postnuptial agreement must meet certain criteria. These include full financial disclosure, lack of duress in creating and signing the agreement, and it must be fair to both parties. Each spouse must have his/her own attorney when entering into a postnuptial agreement, which helps make the agreement an arms length transaction and prevents later claims of duress or coercion.
Benefits of Postnuptial Agreements
Because Florida does allow couples to enter into valid separation agreements if divorce is imminent, these postnuptial agreements tend to prescribe the terms of a split if reconciliation fails, including the relevant financial arrangements, and are selected when divorce isn’t yet imminent. More and more, couples are finding that these agreements are a more acceptable means of moving towards what they want because:
- The terms of the split are discussed prior to the decision to definitely move forward with a divorce, thus the terms sometimes end up being more fair and constructive;
- Reconciliation instead of divorce may ultimately be the outcome. Some experts have commented that reconciliation can often only happen when a couple first puts forward a list of expectations (i.e. the reconciliation or postnuptial agreement); and
- It may help couples feel that they tried every possible option before choosing to end their marriage.
Free Consultation! Call Today 904-990-3066
Whether you have already decided to have one, or have questions about the use or drafting of prenuptial/postnuptial agreements, Attorney Leanne Pérez can help you. If you are already married and did not have time to make a prenuptial agreement, it is never too late to draft a postnuptial agreement. Please call Attorney Leanne Perez today at (904) 990-3066 for a free initial consultation.