Understanding the Enforceability of Prenuptial Agreements in Florida
In Florida, prenuptial agreements, also known as premarital agreements or "prenups," are a common tool for couples planning to marry. These agreements outline how assets and financial issues would be handled in the event of a divorce or death of one of the spouses. But the question arises: Are these agreements enforceable in the state of Florida?
The short answer is yes, prenuptial agreements are generally enforceable in Florida, provided they meet certain legal criteria. The enforcement of prenups in Florida is governed by the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA), which has been adopted by Florida in a modified form as the Florida Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (FUPAA). This act sets forth the requirements for a prenup to be considered valid and enforceable.
Criteria for Validity
To be enforceable in Florida, a prenup must be:
- Entered into voluntarily by both parties.
- In writing and signed by both parties.
- Executed with complete financial disclosure from both spouses, or an express waiver of disclosure must be included.
Additionally, the agreement cannot be unconscionable when it was executed. If one party was not provided fair and reasonable disclosure of the other party's assets or debts and did not waive this right in writing, the agreement may be invalidated.
What Can Be Included?
Prenuptial agreements in Florida can address a wide range of topics, such as:
- Division of property upon divorce or death.
- Spousal support.
- Ownership rights to death benefits from life insurance policies.
- The choice of law governing the construction of the agreement.
However, there are limitations to what can be included. For example, provisions that would adversely affect the right to child support cannot be enforced. Decisions about child custody and visitation rights are also not permitted as they are subject to court discretion to ensure the best interests of the child.
Cases that Challenge Prenuptial Agreements
Despite their general enforceability, prenuptial agreements can still face legal challenges. In the historic case of Casto v. Casto, 508 So. 2d 330 (Fla. 1987), the Supreme Court of Florida set an important precedent by reinforcing that premarital agreements must be entered into fairly and with full disclosure. In this case, an agreement was set aside due to misrepresentation and concealment of assets.
A more recent example is Hooks v. Hooks, where the agreement was invalidated because it was deemed to have been signed under duress. It's crucial for both parties to have adequate time to consider the terms and seek independent legal advice before signing a prenup.
The Bottom Line
Prenuptial agreements in Florida are enforceable if they meet legal requirements and are executed properly. It's important for individuals considering a prenup to consult with knowledgeable attorneys who specialize in family law to ensure that their rights are protected and their documents are legally sound. While no couple anticipates divorce at the outset of marriage, having a well-crafted prenuptial agreement can provide peace of mind and clarity for the future.