Why Everyone Should Consider a Prenuptial Agreement
Deciding to get married is a wonderful experience, but this decision, without adequate financial planning for future possibilities, can produce large amounts of conflict in the event of divorce. No one wants to contemplate the end of a relationship before it even really begins, but couples put themselves at considerable risk of protracted litigation and the loss of valuable assets if they neglect to execute a prenuptial agreement. This contract is not an arrangement that can be reasonably drafted and negotiated in the days leading up to the marriage ceremony, and instead, needs to be addressed before the runup to the marriage is in full swing. Prenuptial agreements can be quite complicated contracts, and couples need to allow adequate time to fully consider what they are comfortable relinquishing rights over or assuming an obligation to fulfill. A discussion of situations prenuptial agreements are particularly useful at tackling, and how to head off opportunities to attack the validity of these agreements during divorce, will follow below.
When Prenuptial Agreements Are Really Important
While the regulation of prenuptial agreements is more stringent than the rules governing most contracts because family matters are involved, there are circumstances that more urgently call for agreement in divorce to ensure a spouse’s interests are adequately protected. Examples of issues that prenuptial agreements are especially effective at addressing include:
- Alimony – Spousal support is almost always an issue of extreme contention in divorce, and often, the expectations of each spouse on this issue vary greatly. Not only does the spouse with higher earning capacity have an interest in this issue, but the dependent spouse who gave up career opportunities to support the household needs assurance his/her financial stability will be secure. Prenuptial agreements allow flexibility to fully account for needs and wants of each spouse and avoids the uncertainty of giving this issue to a judge to decide. While Florida law does institute some restrictions on an award of permanent alimony, courts have wide discretion in this matter.
- To protect children from an earlier marriage – Parents with children born in a previous relationship have a strong interest in protecting them from the loss of financial resources that could interfere with the ability to pay for certain obligations, college for instance. Further, surviving spouses typically take a large percentage of a deceased spouse’s estate, which can deprive these children of a substantial part of their inheritance. Thus, limiting or eliminating alimony or rights to certain assets would leave the children in a better financial situation.
- To protect a family business – Family businesses are typically considered marital assets in divorce, and consequently subject to division, which can put the business and its income at risk. A prenuptial agreement can limit the other spouse’s rights to the income or assets connected with the business, and importantly, block access to sensitive company records and personnel that would put the business under scrutiny, and likely negatively affect operations.
Guarding against Challenges
As mentioned above, it is not advisable to finalize the prenuptial agreement in the days leading up to the wedding. One major reason for this caution is the exposure to claims of duress this timeline creates. Duress is one of the main grounds for challenging the validity of a prenuptial agreement, and signing at the last minute, not having an attorney, or unequal levels of sophistication can all raise this argument. Further, both parties are supposed to provide full financial disclosure, and failing to do so also creates grounds to challenge the agreement’s enforcement.
Contact an Orlando Family Lawyer
Prenuptial agreements may not be romantic, but they do serve important practical purposes that cannot be overstated. If you need or have a prenuptial agreement that is of concern, the knowledgeable attorneys at Orlando’s Hung Law Group can advise you on your rights and interests. Contact us today at (407) 999-0099 to learn more.