Most Floridians would consider marriage to be a process through which their physical and emotional commitment is ceremoniously given to another. While this is true in most, if not all, instances, the act of marriage has much broader implications for the parties involved. Perhaps most importantly is the intertwining of financial affairs. This means that wealth built over the course of marriage is typically up for division when divorce occurs, which can threaten to leave an individual on rocky financial footing post-divorce.
One way to put this concern to rest is to enter into a prenuptial agreement. This type of agreement is essentially a contract amongst spouses that lays out how property will be dividing should their marriage dissolve. Although many property interests can be addressed, including the division of physical assets, bank and retirement accounts, and spousal support, other matter, like child support, generally cannot be addressed. There are some unique circumstances, though, that can affect the effectiveness of a prenuptial agreement.
For example, under Florida law the court may scrutinize a provision in a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement that seeks to modify or eliminate alimony when that provision affects an individual’s eligibility for public assistance. More specifically, the court has the ability to disregard that provision if ordering child support would take an individual off of public assistance. Therefore, when negotiating a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, the parties need to be cognizant of how these matters come into play so that they know exactly what they are agreeing to should they find themselves in divorce.
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can be powerful tools to use to protect one’s self in the event of divorce. Yet, far too often these agreements are improperly drafted, thereby drawing their validity into question. In other instances the negotiated agreement is one-sided. This means that those thinking about entering into one of these agreements need to ensure they are taking a competent, holistic approach. Fortunately, skilled family law attorneys stand ready to help negotiate, draft, and even litigate these matters.