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Engaged couple meets with lawyer about a prenuptial agreementWhen a marriage ends in divorce in Florida, assets are likely to be divided approximately 50-50 according to the prevailing practice of equitable distribution. Florida couples wanting a more active role in deciding how marital property will be divided in the event of divorce can use a prenuptial agreement to give their wishes force. Prenuptial agreements can also describe how matters will go in the event of separation or the death of one of the partners and can cover alimony as well as the division of debts and other matters. Consider enlisting the services of a trusted financial advisor to help you create a prenup that best fits your needs.

Florida Prenuptial Agreement Uses

The authority for governing prenuptial agreements, also called antenuptials, premarital agreements or simply prenups, belongs to the states, which take various approaches. Like many other states, Florida’s law on prenuptial agreements follows the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, which was adopted by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws in 1983 to standardize prenuptial agreements across the country.

Prenuptial agreements have many uses. They are often used by partners who bring assets to a marriage that they don’t want to be equally divided if there is a divorce. These assets may include ownership of a business, an inheritance, retirement plan assets, pensions and life insurance proceeds. The agreements can cover assets brought to the marriage or, if certain restrictions are followed, acquired while the couple is married.

Prenuptial agreements, which can cost from $1,000 to $10,000, may also be used to protect children of a prior marriage from losing an inheritance. They can also provide for one spouse to receive alimony after a divorce, including how much will be received and for how long.

A prenuptial agreement may require one or both partners to draft and execute wills supporting the provisions of the prenuptial agreement. Sometimes there may a question about which state’s laws will govern a later divorce. If so, that is another matter that can be spelled out in a prenuptial agreement.

What Florida Prenuptial Agreements Can Do

House puzzle split down the middle

By getting both parties to agree in advance to a distribution of assets that addresses each partner’s needs, prenuptial agreements can help to reduce costly litigation in the event of a divorce. However, it is common for prenuptial agreements to be challenged in divorce court, and there are some grounds that may be sufficient for a judge set aside some or all provisions of a prenuptial agreement.

Modifying prenuptial agreements can be necessary if one or both partners experiences a major change in financial status during the union. For instance, if one partner earns more income, a prenuptial agreement may call for that partner to pay alimony to the other in the event of divorce.

If during the course of the marriage the high earner loses his or her job and starts earning less than the other partner, it may be necessary to alter the agreement to reflect the changed circumstances. Prenups can also protect assets one of the signers may acquire in the future. However, the prenuptial agreement needs to be carefully written for that to be the case.

What Florida Prenuptial Agreements Can’t Do

Prenuptial agreements can’t be used to set child custody arrangements or determine child support in advance. These matters are reserved for judges, who are charged with deciding them according to the best interests of the child.

If one of the parties was coerced into signing the agreement, that can be grounds for breaking the agreement. If one of the parties engaged in fraud or failed to disclose all of his or her assets as part of the process of negotiating the agreement, that can also allow it to be voided in part or completely. It can be thrown out if a judge rules that the agreement was simply excessively unfair to one partner.

Prenuptial agreements won’t be considered effective if the marriage never takes place or if it is annulled. After they are signed and the couple is married, it can be suspended, revoked or modified if the change is done in writing with the signatures of both partners.

Prenuptial agreements are commonly negotiated from one to several months in advance of the ceremony. Showing up at the wedding with a surprise agreement may not only stir resentment but, even if it is signed and the nuptials proceed, provide grounds for the agreement to be invalidated by a judge if it appears one party did not have enough time to consider the agreement before signing.

Bottom Line

A prenuptial agreement with a set of wedding rings on topFlorida law allows couples contemplating marriage to decide how assets will be divided in the event of divorce or death. Prenups can provide for children of prior marriages and to specify whether and how much alimony will be paid. They are commonly negotiated from one to several months in advance of the ceremony. Under some conditions, these agreements can be voided or modified by a court, such as an agreement signed right before a wedding.

Tips on Preparing for Marriage

  • If you are planning to get married in the state of Florida and are concerned about how assets might be divided if the marriage ends, consider consulting with an experienced financial advisor to find out what your options are. SmartAsset’s free tool matches you with financial advisors in your area in five minutes. If you’re ready to be matched with local advisors who will help you achieve your financial goals, get started now.
  • Finances are generally considered the No. 1 reason marriages run aground. Here are seven important money questions to get answers to before you walk down the aisle. Also, before you say “I do” make sure you have considered three of the most common reasons a prenuptial agreement could be a smart move.

Photo credit: ©iStock.com/StefaNikolic, ©iStock.com/Andrii Yalanskyi, ©iStock.com/Kameleon007

Mark Henricks Mark Henricks has reported on personal finance, investing, retirement, entrepreneurship and other topics for more than 30 years. His freelance byline has appeared on CNBC.com and in The Wall Street Journal, The New York Times, The Washington Post, Kiplinger’s Personal Finance and other leading publications. Mark has written books including, “Not Just A Living: The Complete Guide to Creating a Business That Gives You A Life.” His favorite reporting is the kind that helps ordinary people increase their personal wealth and life satisfaction. A graduate of the University of Texas journalism program, he lives in Austin, Texas. In his spare time he enjoys reading, volunteering, performing in an acoustic music duo, whitewater kayaking, wilderness backpacking and competing in triathlons.
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