What is a Premarital or Prenuptial Agreement?
Although many of those in love feel the mere mention of a prenuptial or premarital agreement shows a lack of trust in the relationship—or a belief that the marriage is doomed to fail—in reality a well-planned premarital agreement is a smart financial move, intended to protect both parties. The vast majority of people approach marriage seriously, with hopes for the future, however considering the practical side of marriage is hardly a commentary what you believe the outcome of your own marriage will be. Considering that one in three marriages do end in divorce and that a full 50% of second and third marriages will end in divorce, it hardly makes sense to bury your head in the sand regarding your future.
A premarital agreement is a legal, binding document which deals with financial and legal matters in the event of a divorce or death. Although some people choose to throw in “extras” into their premarital agreement, these extras can create murky waters, and are generally more psychologically reassuring than legally binding. A premarital agreement should be straightforward, however this does not mean it is simple to implement. The attorneys at The Family Law Place have the knowledge regarding Florida premarital agreement law as well as the experience necessary to ensure your premarital agreement fully covers all eventualities.
Do You Need an Attorney to Prepare a Premarital Agreement?
In order to ensure your premarital agreement is both legal and fair to both parties, you definitely need a skilled attorney. While you could write up your own agreement, you might miss a crucial detail which could then render the entire agreement null and void. The Family Law Place attorneys will generally want to see a list from both parties detailing what they hope to accomplish with the premarital agreement, as a starting point. Since about ten percent of couples who start out with the intention of creating a premarital agreement end up abandoning the idea due to the emotional strain it places on the relationship, it is important that both parties are in agreement.
Although some attorneys counsel those with any uncertainty regarding the relationship to consider a premarital agreement, in reality all couples should consider such an agreement. If you and your significant other are unable to have a rational discussion about your financial future now, imagine what kind of discussion you may have during a heated divorce. Our Sarasota attorneys understand the emotional nature of a premarital agreement and have the necessary negotiation skills to make the process go much more smoothly.
Who Needs a Premarital Agreement?
Most people believe that only the very rich or those with celebrity status need even consider a premarital agreement. In truth, any couple—no matter their economic bracket—must be able to engage in an honest discussion regarding financial issues. Those who are in the middle of their life and entering into a second marriage should absolutely consider a premarital agreement which deals with assets brought into the marriage as well as issues regarding children. When one person in the relationship—no matter the age of the couple—is giving up something significant (a job, apartment or way of life) for their partner, the couple should definitely consider the wisdom of a premarital agreement.
In short, if you have any of the following, then you could benefit from a premarital agreement:
• Assets, including real estate, stocks, retirement funds, jewelry, vehicles or other valuable items
• You are the full or part owner of a business
• You are likely to receive an inheritance from someone in your family
• You come to the marriage with children from a prior relationship
• One of you has significantly more financial resources than the other
• One of you will be supporting the other as they attend college or trade school
• Either partner is pursuing a degree in a potentially lucrative profession such as medicine
• One or both of you are financially responsible for your parents or other loved ones
What Premarital Agreements Can Deal With
An attorney from Law Place can prepare a well-written, solid premarital agreement to deal with the following issues:
• Division of property, particularly those brought into the marriage by each partner
• Ownership of the marital home
• How premarital debts will be handled
• Obligations of either party as far as alimony or spousal support is concerned
• The financial responsibilities of each party during the marriage
• How disputes regarding the premarital agreement will be resolved
• In the case of the death of one spouse, and assuming one or both parties brought children into the marriage, what those children will receive
• In some instances, premarital agreements contain what is known as a “sunset clause,” meaning the agreement ceases to be valid after an agreed-upon number of years.
What Premarital Agreements Can Not Deal With
While premarital agreements can deal with many issues, there are some issues a premarital agreement cannot legally address. Premarital agreements cannot dictate child custody agreements, nor can they legally set out how the children will be raised. In the same vein, a premarital agreement cannot address child visitation rights or child support. Premarital agreements may not contain anything which is against the law, or anything which is believed to actually encourage a divorce. It is generally believed that premarital agreements favor the husband, however in order for the agreement to be upheld, it must be fair and equitable in the eyes of the law. For the partner coming into the marriage with fewer financial assets, a premarital agreement may remove the fear of financial devastation while also protecting the assets of the more financially secure partner.
Challenging a Premarital Agreement
There are many challenges to premarital agreements; the partner who feels they are getting a bad deal due to a premarital agreement may try to have the agreement invalidated. The unhappy person may claim they were coerced into signing the agreement or that their partner failed to accurately divulge assets. Premarital agreements may not be overturned simply because one person ended up getting “taken,” but there are instances in which it can be proven that full disclosure did not exist at the time the premarital agreement was signed. Because it can be difficult to challenge a premarital agreement it is important that you leave plenty of time before the wedding to sufficiently contemplate the terms of the premarital agreement, negotiating a “better deal,” if you feel it is in your best interests. It is also important that the partners not share an attorney during premarital agreement negotiations. Each of you should have your own attorney to ensure your interests and rights are being properly protected.
How The Law Place Can Protect Your Financial Future With a Premarital Agreement
Couples who fail to disclose all their assets prior to engaging in a premarital agreement are not doing themselves any favors. This is the most frequent reason divorce attorneys are able to have the premarital agreement invalidated. While the Florida courts don’t go out of their way to protect those making unwise decisions, if the initial financial disclosure is lacking, the agreement may well be invalidated. A good premarital agreement attorney should be considered an investment, rather than an expense. The attorneys at The Law Place are aggressive, creative and knowledgeable and will explore all angles and any potential weaknesses of your premarital agreement. We understand that thinking about a premarital agreement at such a happy, hopeful time in your life can be difficult, however a premarital agreement is a form of insurance you may be grateful to have at some point down the road.