Articles Posted in Prenuptial Agreement

If you’re familiar with ante-nuptial agreements (a/k/a “prenuptial agreements”) at all, then you’re probably familiar with the stereotype surrounding one variety of prenuptial agreement. That stereotype is a financially savvy fiancé who uses his less sophisticated fiancée’s desire, or perhaps need, to marry (along with her lack of financial savvy) as a means to get her to sign a one-sided prenuptial agreement, often at the last minute before the wedding.

Of course, many prenuptial agreements are the result of fair, good-faith negotiation and full, honest disclosure on both sides. Some, though, more closely resemble the “stereotype” illustrated above. When they do, and when they are the result of one fiancé placing an undue amount of pressure on the other fiancée, then it may be possible under the law to get the prenuptial agreement invalidated under the legal concept of “duress.” To find out more about invalidating (or enforcing) your prenuptial agreement, be sure to reach out promptly and speak to an experienced South Florida family law attorney.

One recent case from Miami gave a useful illustration of what impermissible duress might look like. Reportedly, six days before H.Z. and R.A.N.’s wedding in Venezuela, and with the bride-to-be four months pregnant with the couple’s second child, the man handed the woman a draft copy of an ante-nuptial agreement that the man’s attorney had written. The agreement made no provision for alimony or equitable distribution. It also lacked many important financial disclosures, but the man promised to provide the financial disclosures before the wedding.

The law gives parties wide latitude in how they structure the terms of their contractual agreements. The same is generally true when it comes to spouses and the terms of their prenuptial agreements. For example, one Florida couple entered into a prenuptial agreement that waived all rights to future alimony claims but permitted the wife to receive a “salary” for two years after a divorce. According to a recent Fourth District Court of Appeal ruling, that agreement was valid and meant that the courts could not order an award of alimony and couldn’t use contempt powers if the husband didn’t pay the salary.

Continue reading ›

A Florida man successfully appealed a trial court ruling that declared the couple’s home to be the wife’s separate property. The Fifth District Court of Appeal overturned the trial court’s ruling, based upon the wording contained in the couple’s prenuptial agreement. That agreement gave each spouse the right to give away, sell, or distribute via estate planning tools his or her separate property. By transferring the title of the couple’s home from her name alone to the husband’s name alone, the wife completed exactly such a valid gift, which made the property the husband’s alone.

Continue reading ›

An important new Florida Supreme Court decision helps clarify the applicability of waivers in prenuptial agreements. The court concluded that, if a prenuptial agreement’s terms made it clear that a spouse was waiving and releasing all rights and claims to the other spouse’s separate property, that waiver included the increase in value of those non-marital assets, even if the agreement did not expressly cover increased value, and the increase was due to marital efforts or funds.

The case brought to a conclusion the divorce dispute between H.H. (husband), a mortgage broker, and his wife, D.H. The couple married in February 1986 and remained married for 22 years. The month before their marriage, both spouses signed a prenuptial agreement. The agreement stated that, if the spouses purchased a property in both their names, the asset was presumed to be owned 50-50 between them, but if the husband purchased an asset in his own name, even during the marriage, that asset was his separate property.
Continue reading ›

One of the more popular celebrity news stories of this spring has involved the impending divorce of renowned chef and Food Network TV star Bobby Flay, who filed to end his decade-long marriage to actress Stephanie March. According to a celebrity news website, TMZ, the couple signed a prenuptial agreement before their 2005 wedding, but the wife plans to challenge the validity of the agreement. While the dispute regarding the Flay-March prenuptial agreement will, unless settled between the spouses, be decided by a New York court, the story does raise a relevant issue for Floridians with prenuptial agreements who are contemplating divorce: namely, what are circumstances under which Florida law will prevent a prenuptial agreement’s enforcement?

Florida Statutes Section 61.07(7) sets out a list of several reasons why a prenuptial agreement can be set aside. If one of the spouses did not sign the document voluntarily, it is not enforceable. If a spouse received cash or other valuable assets in exchange for signing the prenup, that may allow for setting the agreement aside.
Continue reading ›

In one recent Florida divorce, a trial court’s failure to give the husband a meaningful opportunity to be heard in the case, as well as the court’s improper shifting of the burden of proof from the wife to the husband regarding whether Scotland law or Florida law should govern the divorce, forced the 5th District Court of Appeal to reverse the trial court and send the case back for a new trial.

Before the former couple married in Scotland, they executed a “Minute of Agreement,” which is the approximate equivalent of a prenuptial agreement. The couple’s agreement stated that, if they divorced, the court deciding the case should use Scottish law.
Continue reading ›

Prenuptial agreements are extremely valuable tools to establish financial boundaries and protect assets each spouse brings into the marriage. To be legal, both spouses must make a genuinely voluntary decision to sign the agreement. Forcing your future spouse to sign a prenuptial agreement in the middle of the night mere hours before your wedding is a recipe for failure, as it raises a strong inference that your spouse signed under duress, and not voluntarily. A husband discovered this in a recent case, where the 2d District Court of Appeal recently voided the couple’s prenuptial agreement, ruling that the husband’s timing raised a clear issue of coercion.

A man and his girlfriend scheduled their wedding for July 13, 2002, in Las Vegas. Less than a month before the wedding, he presented a draft of a prenuptial agreement to her. An attorney advised her not to sign, because the agreement waived her right to claim a statutory elective share, receive alimony or share in assets acquired during the marriage. Near midnight on the eve of the wedding, the man arrived at the Las Vegas airport, handed the girlfriend another copy of the agreement, and demanded she sign it and get it notarized. She complied.

When the wife filed for divorce in 2009, the husband asserted that the prenuptial agreement controlled the terms of asset distribution. The wife sought to set aside the agreement, arguing the court should void it because the husband improperly coerced her to sign it. The trial court sided with the husband, concluding that the wife waited too long to bring her claim of coercion, but the court of appeal overturned that ruling.
Continue reading ›

A flawed prenuptial agreement has made it all the way to the highest court of New York State, with the New York Court of Appeals ruling that a flaw in formation can be deadly to a prenup’s enforcement. In a recently decided case, the court ruled against the husband (6-0) for failing to properly acknowledge his signature. Errors like this reinforce the basic contractual nature of prenuptial agreements and stress both the formalities that must be followed and the importance of contacting an experienced matrimonial attorney when making such important life decisions.Millionaire Corner, a website for the well-to-do, released a survey this April that dispelled commonly held stereotypes regarding certain gender views towards prenuptial agreements. When given the choice between five different views ranging from very pro-prenup to very anti-prenup, women identified more with pro-prenup side of the spectrum and their male counterparts identified more towards the antiquated, negative view of prenups. The most telling of these indicate that women lead men, 62% to 54%, in recommending a prenup to a couple getting married, and approximately 50% “don’t feel there are any disadvantages” to a prenuptial agreement between the parties. The same website published another survey days later showing counter-intuitive views of prenups held by older generations, with more than two-thirds of participants over the age of 61 recommending a prenuptial agreement.

Prenuptial agreements, as discussed in a previous post, can often include strange, unorthodox terms. A common specific type of prenup has earned a name among those in the industry: the love contract. Love contracts are meant to put on paper an agreement regarding how the intimate love life of the couple will be conducted. Often in these contracts the terms specify either frequency or methods of lovemaking.

Such language in a prenuptial agreement really can muddy the waters for very limited enforceability, and such obligatory scheduling of a generally spontaneous act could trivialize many portions of the relationship. Suzanne Pelka, a sex therapist, explains that it is “really this false sense of control that we have because we don’t know what’s gonna happen tomorrow.”

So, what happens when someone tries to fight such a clause? Typically these clauses are not enforceable within the marriage. Aside from demeaning the basic nature of intimacy, if a partner fails to meet the obligations outlined by the agreement, the only thing it may affect is the division of property during a divorce. These documents can not be referred to during the marriage or act as a supporting document to how the partner must act. No breach of contract cause of action can exist when it comes to “love contracts”.
Continue reading ›

Deion Sanders, famous football hall of fame all star, has recently gone through a divorce that can teach any person going through or expecting a divorce some important lessons.Born in Fort Myers, Florida, Deion went on to become a star football and baseball player for the Florida State University. Playing football as a Seminole, Sanders was a two time All-American cornerback in 1986 and 1987. Deion Sanders then went on to play successfully for several MLB and NFL teams. He is most often identified for his football legacy with the Dallas Cowboys. Sanders also holds the all-time record for defensive and kick return touchdowns. Sanders currently works as an NFL analyst.

The divorce began and stalled shortly after. In September 2011, Pilar Sanders, Deion’s wife since 1999, was served with divorce papers from Deion. Deion eventually denied this service and claimed the divorce was nothing but a rumor. Then in December 2011, Deion admitted that he was getting divorced.

The divorce ultimately turned into a lengthy process as Pilar and her lawyer brought numerous contentions regarding their prenuptial agreement (“prenup”). The prenup gave Pilar $100,000 after signing and would give her $1 million upon divorce, however, she would be eligible for much more in absence of the agreement. Nonetheless, during the trial filed by Pilar to contend the prenup, questions on whether her initials were forged in certain sections led to a handwriting expert to be brought in and testify it was not authentic. In addition, there were rumors of abuse during the marriage and accusations of coercion and failure to disclose assets during the signing process.The judge ultimately upheld the validity of the prenup heavily relying on statements made by Pilar in 1999 when Pilar had testified in court that the prenup was fair to her.
Continue reading ›

According to researchers at the University of Michigan’s Institute for Social Research, a husband’s relationship with his wife’s family is a good indicator of future marriage success. A forthcoming study published in the journal Family Relations analyzed 373 married couples over a 26-year-period. At the beginning of the study, all couples were married for less than one year and each spouse was between the ages of 25 and 37. Researchers asked each member of the couple to rate how close they felt to their spouse’s family and then followed the success of each marriage over time. The study reportedly found that couples were 20 percent more likely to remain married when the husband had a good relationship with his in-laws. In addition, couples in which the wife had a good relationship with her spouse’s family were reportedly 20 percent more likely to end their marriage.

Lead study author, Dr Terri Orbuch, believes the disparity may arise from the differing ways in which men and women view themselves and their familial relationships. Orbuch said relationships are generally more important to women, so it is a positive characteristic when a man gets along with his wife’s family. For women, Orbuch stated, their role as a wife and mother tends to be very important. Orbuch believes women may become too involved in their husband’s family and fail to set boundaries. Consequently, any statements made by even a well-meaning in-law are often interpreted as meddling. Men, on the other hand, allegedly identify most with their role as a provider. According to Orbuch, husbands are simply much less likely to take the actions of their in-laws personally.

Sadly, 46 percent of the couples in the study later divorced. Although no one expects divorce to happen to them, about half of all marriages in the United States will eventually be dissolved. If you are considering marriage, you should discuss entering into a premarital agreement with your future spouse. A prenuptial agreement is a contract between the members of a couple that is signed prior to marriage. Normally, such an agreement will address how a couple’s assets will be distributed if the marriage ends. It will also describe any spousal support obligations that may arise in the event of a divorce or the death of a spouse. Entering into a premarital agreement is always a smart move. Many Florida couples who fail to enter into a prenuptial agreement before they marry later regret their decision. If you have questions about premarital agreements, you should contact a skilled family law attorney.
Continue reading ›

01
02
03
04
05
06