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A Prenuptial or Premarital Agreement is a written contract created by two individuals who plan to be married. While you may have the best hopes for your future, it is not a bad idea to consider protecting your assets. The cost and time of preparing a premarital agreement is substantially far less than that of divorce litigation. Remember, just because you are prepared for the worst does not mean the worst will happen.

Couples often enter prenuptial agreements for a myriad of reasons. In Florida, the prenuptial agreement can include just about everything: financial protection, division of property, division of other assets, and even the family dog.

The steps to create a valid prenup are pretty simple.

Hire an Attorney

Both sides need to hire their own attorney and obtain independent legal advice.

Agreement Formalities

The Florida Statutes dictate specific requirements needed for there to be a valid prenup. For instance, a verbal agreement will not suffice. The prenup must be in writing and signed by both parties.

You MUST Provide Full Financial Disclosure

There must be full disclosure. Financial conditions often become a point of contention during a marriage. By providing complete and accurate financial disclosure before exchanging vows, you have an opportunity to develop a mutual understanding early on in your relationship. During the course of a marriage, it will become increasingly difficult to distinguish which spouse brought what into the marriage. Having a valid prenuptial agreement will assist in clearly delineating a division of assets between the spouses.

Effectiveness of the Agreement

The prenup goes into effect when the couple gets married. If a couple signs a prenup, but for some reason decide to not get married, there is no valid agreement.

Allow Yourself Plenty of Time to Prepare the Prenuptial Agreement

You and your future spouse need plenty of time to review the contract. I would suggest preparing the prenuptial agreement before entering into detailed wedding plans or at least having the prenup done 30 days before the wedding ceremony. Consider this: You have worked for months and months planning the perfect fairy tale wedding, the honeymoon is planned and paid for, and Facebook/Twitter friends have expressed their well wishes. Then, a few days before the ceremony, your future spouse approaches you and says, “Oh, by the way, there is one more tiny little thing we need to do before the wedding…” Do. Not. Do. That!

What a Prenuptial Agreement Can Do

  • Define Alimony – In Florida, a prenuptial agreement can define, limit or a spouse may even waive their alimony rights.
  • Keep Assets Separate – A prenup agreement can ensure that an individual retains their selected assets.
  • Protect Family Property – A prenup can protect property in case of a divorce or death.
  • Provide Debt Protection – A prenup can limit your liability for your other spouse’s debts. For couples with student loans, this is an option you should heavily consider.
  • Protect Inheritances – A prenuptial agreement can ensure that your children inherit their rightful share of your property.

What a Prenuptial Agreement Cannot Do

  • Restructure Child Support Orders – In Florida, the right of a child to receive support may not be adversely affected by a prenup agreement.
  • Require Non-financial Rules – A prenup should not be the tool used by either spouse to impose rules about behavior (for instance, how children will be raised).

It is very important that prenuptial agreements be drafted and executed properly. Poorly prepared agreements are susceptible to costly court challenges. Ideally, a prenuptial agreement is created to avoid a costly court battle. Hopefully after signing a prenuptial agreement, you can place it in a safe and it will never rear its ugly head again.

If you have questions or concerns about entering into a prenuptial agreement, call Longwell Lawyers at 407-426-5757.