Prenuptial Agreements

No couple reasonably expects to get a divorce after enjoying a sacred marriage ceremony and declaring their meaningful vows. Unfortunately, sometimes divorces are absolutely necessary in order to maintain a family’s health and safety.

Prenuptial Agreements in Gainesville, FL

What is a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement can prevent a divorce from becoming messy and difficult. This important document identifies and outlines the assets and property of each individual in a marriage, and it establishes predetermining guidelines as to how these assets should and/or will be distributed (if a divorce becomes necessary). In order to draft a prenuptial agreement, it is best to contact a prenup lawyer to assist you and your spouse with the options/clauses that are available to you, what prenuptial agreements entail, and how to draft the perfect binding document for your family’s unique economic and emotional state.

Prenuptial agreements are often arranged during a series of private meetings and negotiations with each spouse, an attorney, and/or a mediator. For assistance with prenuptial agreements and determining if such form of contract is the appropriate option for your family, you should rely on an experienced divorce lawyer at the Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates.

Dividing Assets in a Prenuptial Agreement

Florida law dictates what happens to your assets and debts upon a dissolution of marriage.  Frequently, the distribution of marital assets and debts (those assets and debts acquired during the marriage) will be distributed equally. However, this may not always be the case for a variety of factors. In order to avoid state intervention during a divorce, a prenuptial agreement is highly recommended.

A couple can enter a prenuptial agreement that dictates how any and all acquired assets and debts will be distributed in the event of a divorce. A valid and binding prenuptial agreement can limit or eliminate the need for spousal support or can provide for a certain amount of support following the dissolution of marriage. The terms and conditions of this document have to be adhered to and protected under under Florida law.  

Types of Prenup Clauses

There are many different types of prenuptial agreements. Depending on the couple’s desires and needs, specific rules may be placed in prenups regarding serious matters such as debt and assets, as well as less technical stipulations, such as how the household will be run and how basic, everyday conflicts will be handled.

There are also two common clauses that are associated with prenuptial agreements.

Sunset Clause

A sunset clause is a stipulation that places a time limit and/or deadline on the terms and conditions of a prenuptial agreement. In other words, a pre-established date and/or year determines when the document will expire, and no longer serve as a legally binding document.

Escalator Clause

Meanwhile, escalator clauses allow for the possibility of an increase in the amount of alimony support and/or assets that a spouse receives (in the event of a divorce). In most cases, this is a result of an increase in one spouse’s income or property assets. Escalator clauses allow for appropriate increases (and sometimes decreases) in the distribution of assets.

Issues Addressed in a Prenup

Although prenuptial agreements can simplify the divorce process, there are certain steps that should be taken in order to make the prenup agreement valid and binding. There are many issues that prenup agreements should addressed in order to avoid future complications.

One important issue is the need for financial disclosure. Inadequate financial disclosure before the agreement is signed may make it harder to enforce the agreement at the appropriate time. A family law attorney can make sure that the appropriate amount of disclosure takes place and is properly documented in order to help preserve the enforceability of the agreement at a later date.  
Additionally, prenuptial agreements will be strictly construed and interpreted. The agreement will not provide either party additional protection beyond what is included in the agreement. As such, it is important to have a knowledgeable family law attorney prepare this contract.

There are also some issues that can't be waived in a prenuptial agreement, such as the issue of temporary support (support during the proceedings). If you would like to consider whether a prenuptial agreement is appropriate for your circumstances, contact the family law firm of the Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates in Gainesville, FL, for a consultation. Make sure that these issues are considered well in advance of the wedding or you may prejudice your case and make it more difficult to enforce the agreement in the future.

Voiding a Prenuptial Agreement

While prenuptial agreements are legally binding documents, there are various reasons that may cause a prenup to become null and void. The following are the most common factors for invalidating prenups:

  • Inadequate Mental Capacity: When drafting a prenup, both spouses are expected to be in their best mental state. Brainwashing, illness, and the presence of alcohol and other drugs can impair one’s memory and way of thinking. If an investigation proves that one or both spouses were not operating in his/her full mental capacity at the time of the arrangement, a family court may strike down the agreement as invalid.
  • Forced Measures: Both spouses should voluntarily agree to a prenuptial agreement. Emotional, financial and/or physical force is considered illegal.
  • Fraud: Prenuptial agreements are expected to identify all assets and debts of each spouse. If certain information is purposely excluded from the document, or if there are inaccurate numbers and percentages, the prenuptial agreement is viewed as fraudulent, and can therefore not be honored in a court of law.
  • Lack of Counsel: Every citizen in America has the right to proper legal representation. In fact, prenup attorneys are very helpful with these sort of documents. If a spouse did not receive proper legal counsel when agreeing to the document, the prenup can be voided.
  • Improper Filing: Like all legal documents, prenups have to be filed appropriately, in a timely manner, and with the right offices/departments. Failure to adhere to these deadlines and structures can cancel a prenuptial agreement altogether.

Experienced Prenup Lawyers

When arranging to prepare or sign a prenuptial agreement, both partners should be fully aware and in concurrence of the decision to enter into such a legally binding contract. To determine if a prenup is appropriate for your family, you should rely on experienced prenup attorneys at the Law Office of Silverman, Mack & Associates. We are proud to serve couples throughout Gainesville, FL, and its surrounding areas. Our experienced attorneys will help you understand your rights, identify any and all property that may be at stake, and arrive at agreeable conditions that best serve and protect you.

Contact our firm today.