Prenuptial Agreements for Lower & Middle Income Couples
Since about half of all marriages end in divorce, more if it is a second or third marriage, it is advisable to consider what a prenuptial or premarital agreement might provide.
Florida is not a community property state. A division of property is supposed to be “fair and equitable”, but it does not necessarily have to be 50/50. If there is no agreement made between the divorcing couple, the courts may divide marital property and debts.
A prenuptial agreement (prenup) essentially divides property fairly and equitably in advance of the marriage in the event that it does not work out.
A prenup is a contract drafted by the couple before the marriage when they are most agreeable and there is far less emotion involved. Each partner must have their attorney sign off on the agreement, and the individual representative will ensure no coercion has influenced a proper understanding in advance of a marriage.
Many people think a prenup is something used by only wealthy individuals, but that is not true. Anyone with any property or assets can benefit.
In the event of a divorce, a prenup can make the divorce far less contentious and ultimately less expensive as both parties know in advance how their marital estate will be divided. It also removes any threat or leverage one may have over the other when a marriage is in trouble.
It is advisable to seek the expertise of an experienced Florida family law attorney when creating a premarital agreement so that all your bases are covered.
The Benefit of a Prenuptial Agreement
The value of a prenup may mean different things to different people depending on their stage of life. The contract is not a one size fits all proposition, and it needs to be crafted with your specific needs in mind. For example:
Young Couple – A young couple decides to marry. They are in their twenties and have not amassed many assets at this point in their lives. How might a prenup benefit this couple?
Consider that one of the two (or both) has a large amount of college debt. With a prenup, the loan would belong only to the person who accrued the debt if there is a divorce. The same applies to credit card debt. A prenup assures that you will not share the debt that you did not run-up. It may even get the debtor to rein in their spending, knowing the debt will be theirs alone.
By Florida law, a prenup cannot specify child support in the event of a divorce, and these numbers must follow state guidelines.
The benefit of a prenup becomes more apparent when there are modest to sizeable assets.
Middle Aged Couple – If one individual owns a business, a prenup may be structured to keep the company from being vulnerable in a property division.
A prenup can also spell out whether alimony will be granted. A spouse who has waived alimony may be granted it regardless of the prenup if s/he has become disabled or is forced into a much lower standard of living following the divorce than during the marriage.
Older Couple – When a couple enters into their second, third, or even fourth marriage with vastly different net worth, a prenup allows the higher earner to direct her assets to her children rather than her partner divorcing.
A prenup can protect existing property, businesses, homes, jewelry, and art as long as it is reasonable and does not violate the law. We advise that you keep separate property separate during the marriage, so there is less likely to be a community property claim down the road.
Understand that one party can attack the validity of a prenup during a divorce. For example, the contract may be nullified if it was signed under duress.
Crystal Collins Spencer has experiencing making sure all of the assets are on the table before marriage and during prenup discussions. She also has in-depth experience with uncovering assets hidden during a divorce.
Your Pensacola Family Law Attorney
Make sure any prenup is signed and in writing, certified by a notary public. There must be no coercion, and it is best if the agreement is completed well before the wedding.
To protect your financial interests, Spencer Law, P.A. offers professional and knowledgeable advice to discuss how a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement might benefit you. Whether Escambia, Bay, or Okaloosa Counties, our office can be reached at (850) 795-4910, or you can contact us online.