A Prenuptial Agreement Can Provide Peace Of Mind
Society is changing. People are getting older and becoming more professionally and financially established before getting married. Many couples already have a child prior to marriage, and second and third marriages are not unusual. Brides and grooms are getting married with more personal assets than ever before. But those assets can become marital assets as quickly as you say “I do.”
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A prenuptial agreement is a commonsense way to protect personal assets from becoming marital property in the event of divorce.The prenup typically outlines each party’s assets and debts, and as well as each party’s rights to the property after the marriage and in the event of divorce. If you are getting married and need to draft a prenuptial agreement, Saunders Law Group in Bartow, Florida, can ensure the contract is valid.
Under Florida law, property and financial assets accumulated during the course of the marriage are typically subject to valuation and equitable distribution in divorce, with few exceptions. As long as the assets listed in the signed prenuptial agreement have not been commingled with marital investments, the assets will be excluded from the marital property settlement.
There are some general things to consider when signing a prenup:
- The agreement cannot be drafted and signed at the last minute; instead, allow six months.
- Both parties must enter into the agreement willfully and not under threat or duress.
- Both parties must have their own legal counsel (or represent themselves).
- The agreement cannot be so one-sided that one party foregoes all rights.
Who Should Consider Setting Up A Prenup?
Though many people still view prenups as something only wealthy couples do, with the rise of divorces and remarriages, prenuptial agreements are becoming more common among couples within various financial standings.
You may wish to consider a prenup if you have children from a previous marriage so you can leave a portion of your assets or property to them. A prenup can help spell out the specifics to ensure that your children are provided for.
You might also need legal assistance if you want to:
- Clarify each party’s financial rights and responsibilities
- Protect yourself from your spouse’s debt
- Keep certain items of property, such as an heirloom or family business, within your birth family
- Determine how property and assets will be divided in the event of divorce
Prenups can contain a wide range of other information regarding finances and assets, such as how you will file your tax returns, whether or not you will have joint bank accounts, and more.
And If You Forego Drafting A Prenuptial Agreement?
Without a prenup, property ownership is determined by state law. In the event that you and your spouse divorce, any property acquired during the marriage is considered marital property, and the court can decide how that property should be distributed. In some cases, the state can also distribute some of the property you owned prior to the marriage — property that is generally considered to be “separate” property.
Without a prenup, each spouse has a right to joint ownership of marital property, incur and pay for each other’s debts, and have a say in the management and control of marital property. In the event of divorce or death, the courts generally try to fairly distribute the marital property — and debts — between both spouses.
Making Sure The Agreement Stands Up In Court
While you can draft your own prenuptial agreement, it is highly advisable that you seek counsel from an experienced attorney. There are some things that cannot be included in a prenuptial agreement, and a court may rule your prenup invalid if you attempt to include those items. Some items that cannot be included in a prenup are:
- Restrictions regarding child support, custody or visitation
- Using financial incentives to encourage divorce
- Nonfinancial matters such as the division of household chores or decisions about having and raising children
To avoid the court declaring your prenup invalid, our family law attorneys can help you write up a clear and understandable agreement that will hold up in court, if necessary.