Prenuptial Attorneys in Orlando


Historically, courts looked unfavorably upon prenuptial agreements as a matter of public policy. The prevailing attitude was that a prenuptial agreement turned what was supposed to be the most intimate and sacred bond into a financial arrangement. Then, in the late 1960′s and early 1970′s something happened. Societal values evolved and the courts began to realize that for all intents and purposes, a marriage is a type of financial arrangement. The courts started to understand that practical considerations made prenuptial agreements good for couples to explore, and as a result, they began enforcing them. Not only do prenuptial agreements force people to consider the financial ramifications of marriage, but they also reduce conflict in the event of a divorce. Anyone who has gone through a divorce will tell you that the less conflict there is in dissolving the marriage, the lower the financial burden will be to both parties. The benefits of a prenuptial agreement extend beyond the realm of divorce as well. A prenuptial agreement can protect the wishes of a spouse in the event of him or her dying without a validly executed will.

Prenuptial Basics

In jurisdictions that follow the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act – and most do – there are several requirements for a validly executed prenuptial agreement. First, the agreement must be in writing; there are no oral prenuptial agreements. Second, the agreement must be executed voluntarily; if it is found that either party signed the document under duress or unfair pressure from the other side, it will not be enforced. Third, the agreement must not be unconscionable; if it leaves one party destitute or places an unreasonable burden on one party, then it will not be enforced. Lastly, the agreement needs to be validly executed by both parties “in the manner for a deed to be recorded;” in other words, the prenup needs to be notarized.The aforementioned prenuptial requisites not only are necessary at the time of the agreement’s signing, but they must also be sustained for the duration of the marriage in order for the agreement to be enforceable should the marriage be dissolved. For instance, one of the conditions of a valid prenuptial agreement might be that the marital home will go to one of the parties upon the dissolution of the marriage. This might be conditioned upon that party making the mortgage payments directly from his or her income. However, if the couple decides to co-mingle their income and use that co-mingled income pool to make mortgage payments, the otherwise valid prenuptial agreement may be held unenforceable.:

Prenuptial Agreements in Florida
Florida has enacted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act but has made one adjustment in its version of the act. According to Section 732.702 of Florida’s statutes, if the prenuptial agreement speaks to the succession of assets upon the death of a spouse, then the agreement must be executed before two witnesses. Aside from that one distinction, the Florida statutes follow the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act.As previously mentioned, prenuptial agreements do more than just protect a party who is entering a marriage with a disproportionately large amount of assets. In the absence of a prenuptial agreement and without a valid will, the law will decide what assets will go to the surviving spouse no matter what the true intentions were of the deceased spouse. Moreover, just as a pragmatic consideration, it makes good sense f couples to understand what their financial rights and responsibilities are prior to entering into marriage.Anyone seeking to execute a prenuptial agreement should seek legal counsel for every step of the process as there are too many legal considerations to take care of without professional help. There are both procedural and substantive issues with regard to the creation of the agreement as well as federal laws that govern issues that would seem to logically fit the purposes of the prenup.

Permanent Alimony:
Permanent alimony lasts for the rest of the life of the spouse receiving support. It is most commonly awarded in cases involving marriages of long duration, but it may also be awarded in shorter marriages when exceptional circumstances exist. The terms of a permanent alimony arrangement are modified only if there is a change of circumstances justifying modification. For instance, if the spouse receiving support remarries, the court will likely “terminate” the alimony, since the remarrying spouse will presumably receive support from his or her new spouse.

A Good Example

Recently a Florida court ruling brought attention to the importance of thoroughly drafted prenuptial agreements. The case underscores the legally binding effects of Florida prenuptial agreements on how spouses benefit from appreciation of assets. Prenuptial agreements can help avoid unnecessary litigation if they clearly address premarital homes, incomes from rental properties, and other assets. When it comes to estate planning from Pensacola to Miami, Florida prenuptial agreements must specifically state how each spouse benefits from post-marriage appreciation of assets. The Florida case, Heiny v Heiny is an example of how the language in prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements will be strictly interpreted should a couple choose to dissolve their marriage and divide assets.

A Florida Statute requires a judge to identify marital assets and liabilities, value them, and distribute them equitably. The home where the couple resided was a premarital property owned by the wife, which was specifically addressed in the prenuptial agreement. Initially the court determined the husband was entitled to half of the equity value, cost of capital improvements made, and principal payments made during the marriage. The home’s appreciation since the marriage is estimated at over $270,000. As part of equitable distribution, the court calculated the husband was entitled to half of the appreciation. Upon appeal, the court ruled the husband is in fact not entitled to the appreciated value of the home: “The plain language of the agreement clearly limits the husband’s interest in the wife’s premarital home to one-half of principal payments and one-half of capital improvements made by the parties during the marriage. The trial court’s calculation erroneously took into consideration the appreciation of the premarital home, which was not contemplated by the terms of the antenuptial agreement. The husband’s benefit regarding the wife’s premarital home was limited to one-half of the cost of the improvements and one-half of the amount of the principal payments made during the marriage.”

A thorough prenuptial agreement will address the exact intentions of both parties that concern assets, appreciation and interest. Properly executed prenuptial agreements in Florida help avoid unnecessary litigation by making both parties intentions clear when it comes to property division, alimony, and other estate matters. The carefully crafted language in the prenuptial agreement reviewed in Heiny v. Heiny shows exactly how just a few words preserved over $270,000 as part of one spouse’s assets.