Is Your Prenuptial Agreement Valid?

Few couples who intend to get married envision the relationship ever ending. But divorce can and does happen, and prenuptial agreements will ensure that your rights and assets (and those of your spouse) are safeguarded in the event of divorce.

Prenuptial agreements lay out each party’s respective obligations and rights, and direct how certain assets will be shared in the event that the couple separates or divorces. But, to be legally binding, they have to meet certain requirements, and not all of them do. (One reason it’s so important to have an attorney assist you with this process.)

To avoid the unpleasant surprise of having your prenuptial agreement invalidated by the court, consider these common reasons a judge may discount the agreement:

1. The agreement was not in writing. The law requires that a prenuptial agreement be written. Florida courts have handled many lawsuits, some of them involving huge sums of money, stemming from oral contract disputes. Without witnesses, it can boil down to one person’s word vs. another’s.

2. The agreement was signed under duress. Unduly influencing a spouse or partner into accepting conditions that are overwhelmingly in favor of the other party can invalidate a prenuptial agreement. If they are to be enforced, contracts must be freely entered into.

3. There was not adequate time to review and consider the agreement before signing it. Someone entering into a premarital agreement needs to be given time to read over the contents and request any amendments before signing it. If a bride is presented with a contract and pen just before the “Wedding March” starts playing, the agreement probably won’t stand up in court.

4. Some of the provisions are invalid. Prenuptial agreements can and should cover financial obligations of both parties. But they cannot alter or waive certain obligations, such as child support. Any provisions that are in violation of the law also cannot be enforced, although the court may uphold the remainder of the agreement.

5. Full disclosure was not made by one or both parties. Misrepresentation can invalidate a prenuptial agreement. When one party intentionally fails to disclose all information about their assets and obligations, they are essentially misrepresenting themselves to their future spouse and the agreement may be set aside.

Any couples who want to enter into a prenuptial agreement should consult an experienced family law attorney to ensure that the agreement is both fair and valid. The money spent on legal advice can prevent problems in the future should the agreement ever be challenged. Give me a call at (305) 984-4287 if you’d like assistance!

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