This is the next post in a series focused on understanding prenuptial agreements in Melbourne, Florida. My previous article discussed the potential benefits of a valid prenuptial agreement. Whether designed to give the couple comfort about how property may be divided if they should divorce in the future or used as a planning or asset protection tool, the spouses should consult with an attorney to develop a valid agreement. This post will discuss the requirements for an enforceable prenuptial agreement. If you need assistance drafting or enforcing a prenuptial agreement, contact my office today to speak to a Melbourne family lawyer.
To be upheld in a court of law, a prenuptial agreement must meet certain requirements. An enforceable contract must have been entered into voluntarily by the parties. Furthermore, it must not be “unconscionable.” This means it cannot have provisions that are determined to be unfair in an unscrupulous way. In addition, at the time the agreement was signed, the parties must have fully disclosed their assets and liabilities to one another. When preparing and entering a prenuptial agreement, the parties should abide by these standards and may wish to document their compliance. After signing the agreement, the couple must comply with the restrictions they have created in the contract, such as not commingling funds between separate accounts. It is not uncommon for a spouse to who feels treated unfairly during a divorce to argue that a prenuptial agreement is unenforceable. Being aware of the requirements and acting in accordance with them may help thwart potential challenges in the future.
For example, if a couple desires to ensure that their investment accounts and wages earned after the marriage remain the separate property of each, they will need to be cognizant of the enforceability requirements. To avoid a future challenge on the grounds outlined above, they may wish to take certain actions. The couple might engage separate independent legal counsel to represent their respective interests in the drafting and negotiating the terms of the agreement. Obtaining legal advice about the various provisions could eliminate any potential one-sided clauses that may later be deemed unconscionable. They could also document all meetings and conversations regarding the agreement to demonstrate that they each had an opportunity to review and discuss the contract in advance of signing. Executing the agreement well in advance of the wedding date may avoid any appearance that one party was forced to sign at the last moment to proceed with the wedding. During the marriage, the couple should keep their income in non-joint bank accounts and should not deposit money in the other person’s investment accounts. If a challenge arises, the actions of the parties to create a valid contract may protect their original intent. A court’s determination about the enforceability of a prenuptial agreement will depend on the facts of each specific case. It is best to have an experienced attorney involved from the outset to prevent challenges to enforceability. If you need assistance contact my office today to speak with a lawyer.
My office serves clients in the cities of Titusville, Cocoa, Palm Bay, Grant, Valkaria, and Rockledge, as well as in the Indian River County areas of Fellsmere, Sebastian, Vero Beach, Indian River Shores, and Orchid.