Entering into a marriage is supposed to be built on trust, understanding, and a lifelong commitment between two people. But sometimes, relationships unravel in unexpected ways. This reality has led more couples to sign prenuptial agreements before getting married in recent years.
Also known as “prenups,” these binding legal contracts determine how assets, debts, spousal support, and other financial matters will be handled if a married couple gets divorced. They aim to protect both parties and provide a roadmap for dividing up their lives if things don’t work out.
Yet what really happens when a couple with a prenup ends up heading to divorce court? Can the prenup guarantee a faster, simpler split? Or will ex-partners still find themselves embroiled in heated debates over money and possessions?
To gain better insight into how prenups hold up when put to the test in a real divorce, the experienced Florida prenup lawyers at Vasquez de Lara Law Group in Miami discuss exactly what to expect.
Prenups are a ‘just in case’ contract between couples planning to marry that describes what happens if they ever divorce. It allows them to settle challenging financial issues upfront before tensions run high.
According to Florida law, a valid prenup is a voluntary, signed agreement that:
For many of our clients, the core goal of a prenup is maintaining control over hard-earned business assets, family inheritance money, real estate, stock investments, and high-value personal property. This gives both spouses security that their financial futures will be protected no matter what comes their way as a married couple down the road.
In our experience, prenups appeal to Miami-area couples for several key reasons:
For entrepreneurs, business owners, and high-income earning professionals marrying later in life, a prenup shields assets they accrued as single individuals from being divided if the relationship doesn’t go the distance. This could include companies, properties, stock portfolios, retirement accounts, and luxury vehicles.
Spouses receiving sizable inheritance money or gifts sometimes want to protect those funds by keeping that money separate through a prenup. This ensures it stays in the family instead of being split.
For older couples entering second marriages, creating clear ground rules ahead of time brings peace of mind. No one wants to repeat mistakes from the past. Getting remarried with a prenup in place lets them enjoy their new union without worrying about finances.
When blending families through remarriage, retaining certain assets for biological kids is often an emotional priority. Prenups allow spouses to put aside funds or property to gift heirs down the road.
Has one partner accrued significantly more assets or debts than the other pre-marriage? A prenup levels the playing field from day one of the marriage, so neither spouse feels cheated later. Discussing finances early on mitigates tensions.
A valid prenuptial agreement can certainly streamline divorce proceedings by already detailing asset distribution, alimony, and other financial matters. Less left to negotiate means less time haggling in court.
However, the key word here is “valid.” Signed under pressure, lacking transparency, or otherwise deemed unenforceable by a judge, a prenup won’t expedite the divorce process at all. In fact, trying to dispute a faulty prenup’s clauses could slow everything down.
If anyone tries pulling a fast one with hidden accounts, inaccurate disclosures, last-minute changes, or duress tactics, that gets thrown out. Judges expect both parties to have ample time for review and independent legal counsel.
In other words, an incomplete, hastily signed prenup just buys you a ticket to prolonged fights over finances, property, and support obligations when divorcing. It unravels the whole point.
Florida is an equitable distribution state, meaning that in a divorce, marital assets and debts are divided fairly between the two parties. So, what does a valid prenup actually govern when it comes time to split everything up?
The prenup allows both spouses to retain possessions they acquired before getting married as “separate non-marital property.” Things like:
However, appreciation of premarital assets over the course of marriage may be classified as joint marital property later subject to property division.
Almost always, assets actively earned or purchased jointly during marriage get divided equitably per state law. This includes the couple’s shared home, joint bank accounts, purchased real estate, appreciation on premarital investments, and accrued team business assets.
If protected in the prenup documentation, property or cash gifts received individually from family during marriage typically remain that spouse’s separate property and are not subject to division.
Many prenups outline parameters or limits on alimony/spousal support to be paid in case of divorce. However, anything violating state support guidelines will not hold up. The same goes for child support, which cannot be waived in a prenup at all.
Prenups also often classify individual debt obligations tied to separate premarital assets. Otherwise, common marital debts are divided.
Experienced divorce lawyers like our team at Vasquez de Lara Law Group are indispensable when prenups get tested in real life with a split.
Legal counsel helps by:
Perhaps most importantly, family law attorneys ensure both parties completely understand the implications of the prenup on property and support rights before signing on the dotted line. They also prepare clients for scrutinizing questions from judges skeptical of contracts protecting significant separate assets in ugly divorces.
Most properly executed prenups are enforced in a divorce as long as Florida guidelines are followed. But legal holes do sometimes appear.
For example, a judge may rule all or part of a prenup invalid if:
Additionally, some prenup clauses lose teeth over longer marriages. After being together for 15+ years, it’s harder to claim current assets came only from premarital activities.
The court expects more equitable distribution. Terms also get re-examined if kids are involved, or one spouse would unfairly suffer serious hardship from enforcement.
As couples move forward from the euphoria of “I do” to the sobering reality of “I don’t anymore,” prenups clearly lay out ground rules during a challenging transition.
Turn to our compassionate legal professionals for trusted guidance at every step in your journey. From thoughtful premarital planning to asserting your rights during a complex divorce, we devote our careers to securing your best interests now and always.
To discuss your situation in complete confidence, schedule a consultation with Vasquez de Lara Law Group today.