Aside from child custody arrangements, division of financial assets is easily one of the most hotly contested issues when couples divorce in Florida. Therefore, more men and women in Coral Springs and Parkland are considering prenuptial agreements than in years past. A prenuptial agreement, often shortened to “prenup,” is a contract that is written by two parties prior to getting married to one another. The agreement lists property each party owns and explains what each person’s property rights would be in the event of dissolution. In some states, prenuptial agreements are also known as an antenuptial agreement, premarital agreement or prenuptial contract. An agreement may also be made during the course of the marriage. These contracts are referred to as postmarital, postnuptial, or marital agreements.
Most people are familiar with the agreements made between individuals of high wealth before marriage. However, a prenuptial agreement may serve multiple purposes. From minimizing the potential for a lengthy battle in divorce court to creating safeguards for life events that took place prior to the marriage, there are several practical reasons an everyday people might consider a prenuptial agreement.
Most Americans have some degree of consumer debt. Parties who plan to marry may wish to consider a prenuptial agreement that explicitly holds each person responsible for the debt he or she accumulated prior to the marriage. Creating an agreement that addresses debt may be a smaller part of a larger agreement that seeks to clarify each person’s overall financial rights and responsibilities during the marriage. A prenup is also a useful means of planning prior to in the event of a spouse’s death. Under current laws, debt collectors may pursue surviving spouses for unpaid debts when the original debtor dies. Spouses may protect themselves from debt collectors by creating an contract that specifies that each spouse is responsible for his or her own premarital debt.
If one or both parties have children from a previous partnership prior to the marriage, a prenup may be used to establish that non-marital property will be transferred to the children in the event of the parent’s death. In the absence of a prenup, the spouse may have the right to claim property that otherwise was intended to be transferred to the step-child.
Each state determines what it considers to be separate property and marital or “community” property. Prenuptial agreements may be used to keep family heirlooms within the bloodline, separate businesses, provide guidance for filing tax returns, define rights regarding retirement benefits and savings contributions, and address many other financial decisions couples may face. While the list of items that may be included in a prenup is quite expansive, there are certain restrictions. A prenup may not be set aside if it includes anything illegal. Spouses may not waive their rights to spousal support or alimony.
Couples in Florida may draft their own prenuptial agreements; however, enlisting the help of an experienced lawyer specializing in family law cases in Parkland or Coral Springs is highly recommended. Today, prenuptial agreements are permitted in all states; however, the court may set aside an agreement that appears to be unfair or that does not meet the state’s specified requirements. Therefore, it is important to have the guidance of a professional who is familiar with the governing laws. Parties are also encouraged to have separate counsel to review the agreement to ensure their individual rights and interests are protected.