Articles Posted in Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

Many people take the practical measure of entering into prenuptial agreements prior to marrying. If their marriage ends in divorce, a party that consented to the terms of a prenuptial agreement cannot then attempt to evade them by arguing that they are vague or that the court lacks a basis for enforcing the provisions of the agreement. Rather, as shown in an opinion recently issued by a Florida court, if a court grants a party spousal support, in part due to the terms of a prenuptial agreement, it can be challenging to show that its decision constitutes an abuse of discretion. If you intend to marry and question whether you should execute a prenuptial agreement, it is smart to talk to a Miami family law attorney as soon as possible.

The Agreement in Question

It is alleged that the parties married in 2009. Shortly before marrying, they entered into a prenuptial agreement. They then separated in 2016, and in 2018 the wife filed a petition for dissolution and asked the court to enforce the prenuptial agreement. The court granted the wife temporary spousal support and post-dissolution spousal support. The husband appealed, arguing in part that the court abused its discretion in ordering him to pay temporary spousal support.

Demonstrating a Court Abused its Discretion in Granting Spousal Support

On appeal, the court affirmed the trial court’s ruling. The court noted that the prenuptial agreement provided that in the event the parties separated and filed a petition for dissolution, the husband was to pay the wife temporary support in the amount of $3,000 per month until the court issued a final judgment of dissolution. Continue reading ›

It is not uncommon for a couple to take a practical view of marriage and enter into prenuptial agreements prior to their wedding. Florida courts will typically enforce prenuptial agreements entered into in Florida as long as they were executed in accordance with Florida law. It is not always immediately evident, however, if foreign prenuptial agreements should be upheld. Recently, a Florida court issued an opinion discussing the analysis that must be conducted to determine whether foreign prenuptial agreements are enforceable. If you have questions regarding how a divorce could impact your financial rights and obligations, it is in your best interest to contact a Miami divorce lawyer as soon as possible.

History of the Case

It is reported that the husband and the wife married in Quebec in July 1992. Prior to marrying, they entered into a prenuptial agreement (foreign prenuptial agreement). The agreements stated, among other things, that they adopted the separate property regime set forth by the terms of the Civil Code of the Province of Quebec and that they would pay for any marital expenses in proportion to their respective capabilities.

Allegedly, the parties maintained separate accounts throughout their marriage. They became residents of Florida in 2009. Ten years later, the wife instituted a petition for dissolution of the marriage in which she requested alimony and equitable distribution in accordance with Florida law. In the husband’s response to the petition, he asserted that they largely had separate rather than marital assets and argued that the foreign prenuptial agreement should govern the distribution of any marital property. The case proceeded to trial, after which the court found that the marital residences purchased by the husband were subject to equitable distribution. The husband appealed. Continue reading ›

While many people think of prenuptial agreements as instruments used for protecting assets in the event of a divorce, they can also help to determine how property will be disbursed if either party dies. As parties cannot opine on the intent of certain provisions from the grave, it is critical that prenuptial agreements are drafted in a clear and precise manner so that they can be properly interpreted by the courts. A Florida court recently discussed the interpretation of prenuptial agreements in a case in which the wife and the children of the deceased husband disagreed as to the meaning of numerous provisions. If you are engaged and you have substantial assets, it is smart to speak to a knowledgeable Florida marital agreement attorney regarding your options for protecting your wealth.

The Terms of the Agreement

Allegedly, the husband and wife lived together for several years before they decided to wed. The husband briefly mentioned prenuptial agreements before they were engaged but did not mention them again until the day of the wedding. At that point, he demanded that the wife find and complete a prenuptial agreement which she did. The parties then signed the agreement in front of a notary public.

It is reported that the husband died without a will four years after the couple married. The wife sought, among other things, to have the home describe in paragraph two of the agreement to be the husband’s homestead subject to her election of one-half interest. The husband’s children argued that the provision only applied during the husband’s life and that the wife waived any interest in the home. Continue reading ›

Both in this blog and elsewhere, you may read about the importance of having a powerful South Florida family law attorney by your side “every step of the way.” That’s definitely true if you are someone who is seeking to create a premarital (a/k/a prenuptial) agreement. You need strong legal representation when you negotiate your agreement, when you execute the document and, potentially, when it comes time to enforce that agreement.

That last one – enforcement — is just as important as the others, because it is far from impossible to encounter a spouse who decides they don’t want to “play by the rules” created by that agreement when it comes time to do so.

This was the case for L.B., an ex-wife from the Orlando area. Before she married H.H., the pair created and signed a prenuptial agreement. That contract stated that, if the couple divorced, the husband was required to support the wife, not just during his lifetime, but after his death.

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As anyone who’s been through divorce litigation knows, getting a favorable ruling from the judge is a huge step, but it may not be the last step. There may be occasions where, despite a clear order from the court, your ex-spouse doesn’t do what he/she was supposed to do. This is one of the many reasons why it pays to have a skilled South Florida family law attorney on your side: so that you can not only win your case in court, but can win the legal battles that come afterward.

For example, look at A.L. and K.M., a married couple who created a postnuptial agreement. That agreement said that the wife would pay the husband a one-time equitable distribution payment. The payment, which was $250,000, was due within seven days of the spouses’ signing of the agreement.

The wife didn’t pay the whole $250,000, though. Instead, she paid $225,000. The husband responded by filing a contempt motion. The magistrate who heard the case initially recommended that the court rule in favor of the husband and order the wife to pay the remaining $25,000.

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You’ve probably heard of ”prenuptial agreements” and perhaps “marital settlement agreements,” too. Another agreement, slightly less well-known but no less important, is the “postnuptial agreement.” Each of these three types of legally binding agreements can be very powerful tools and have a very substantial impact on you should you go through a divorce. For those reasons (and others,) it is important to have a knowledgeable South Florida family law attorney on your side to advise you on the differences and how best to protect yourself and your family.

A prenuptial agreement is, of course, an agreement made in anticipation of marriage and a marital settlement agreement is made in anticipation of an order of divorce. A postnuptial agreement is something, however, that a couple can create either in anticipation of divorce (as the marriage is breaking down) or while the marriage is still vibrant and intact.

A recent case from Palm Beach County highlighted some of the differences between each of those agreements in terms of enforceability and the importance of those differences. The case involved G.S. and D.S., who married in 1977 but separated for a time in the mid-1990s. They eventually got back together and, in late 1996, they signed an agreement that dealt with the distribution of certain assets in the event of a divorce. At that time, the pair was married, living together and not even thinking about getting divorced.

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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.

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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.

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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.
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