The Enforceability of Prenuptial Agreements in Boca Raton
Almost every adult has heard of a prenuptial agreement, also known as a premarital agreement. These are, in short, legal agreements reached between two people in contemplation of marriage. These agreements may address numerous issues, such as property ownership, property division upon certain occurrences, spousal support —or lack thereof—upon divorce, and much more. Generally, prenuptial agreements are associated with marriages in which one or more spouse has substantial wealth or other assets, however, these agreements may be just as helpful in relationships with only modest assets. If you are engaged, it is wise to consult with an experienced family law attorney to discuss whether a prenuptial agreement may be right for you.
When are these agreements enforceable?
Some couples form premarital agreements only to find out, upon dissolution of the marriage, that the agreement is unenforceable in court. Florida law sets out specific requirements for the enforceability of these agreements, and the law must be followed for a court to adhere to the agreement. The following are certain requirements for the enforceability of premarital agreements in Florida:
- The agreement has to be put in writing, with the signature of both prospective spouses.
- A marriage must follow the agreement, though no other consideration is requirement. The marriage must also be legal—if it is later deemed to be void, a court may decide not to enforce a premarital agreement. Marriages may be deemed void due to bigamy, incest, mental incapacitation of one or more spouse, or because both spouses are of the same sex (this is currently being challenged in Florida courts).
- Nothing in the agreement may go against public policy or violate a criminal law in Florida.
- The agreement may not limit or eliminate the requirement for child support.
- Both parties must voluntarily consent to sign the premarital agreement.
- No party may use fraud, coercion, or duress to compel the other party to sign the agreement.
- Both parties must provide the other with a reasonable and fair disclosure of their assets, financial obligations, and property. One or both parties may waive the requirement for this disclosure, or formal disclosure may not be necessary if the court deems each party had adequate knowledge of the other’s financial position.
Many couples may be unaware of the specific requirements of Florida law, and may enter into a marriage falsely believing that they have a premarital agreement that will sufficiently protect their assets and rights in the marriage. Such couples may be in for a rude awakening when a court then rules on property division, alimony, or other issues without considering the premarital agreement.
Alan R. Burton is an experienced family law attorney in Boca Raton who is highly familiar with the requirements for premarital agreements and can ensure yours is drafted in a way that meets the criteria for enforcement. Additionally, if you are facing divorce, Mr. Burton may also assist you in either attacking or defending the validity of your premarital agreement. If you have any questions or concerns regarding premarital agreements, do not hesitate to contact our office today.