Making and Breaking Premarital Agreements in Palm Beach County
When Baby Boomers got married, premarital agreements were expensive and complicated. Therefore, only people with substantial nonmarital assets to protect even considered such an agreement, which was little more than a divorce insurance policy. Millennials, in contrast, often make premarital agreements, even if they have limited nonmarital assets. Millennials, many of whom are children of divorce, are often willing to do whatever it takes to ensure that their marriages last. This process includes addressing thorny questions, like money and inheritance matters, in advance.
The recently-adopted Uniform Marital and Premarital Agreements Act makes prenups more accessible. The UMPAA also makes it easier to enforce these agreements, even across state lines. Over two dozen states have adopted some form of the UMPAA. This important legislation enables a Jupiter family law attorney to draft an enforceable prenup, even a relatively complex one, in as little as one office visit. The UMPAA also makes it easier to analyze a prenup’s enforceability, if things go sideways.
Making a Perenup
We mentioned the “divorce insurance” aspect of prenups above. Actually, an insurance policy is a good analogy. No one expects the house to burn down, but to be prepared for the unexpected, everyone should get fire insurance. Likewise, no one expects a marriage to break down, but to be prepared for the unexpected, a couple should at least consider a premarital agreement.
That’s especially true if one spouse has been married before. A prior divorce usually wreaks havoc on inheritance and succession laws.
Assume Ralph has a small barber shop that he’d like Ralph Jr., his son from his first marriage, to inherit. But if Ralph Sr. and the mother of Ralph Jr. divorce, that divorce probably cuts off all Ralph Jr.’s inheritance rights.
A prenuptial agreement addresses that problem and also gives any future children clear expectations about Ralph’s barber shop. To seal the deal, Ralph’s Jupiter family law attorney might also draft an accompanying will or other executory document.
Money matters are front and center in most premarital agreements. Money poisons many relationships. So, many people want to take money disputes out of the picture.
Common financial provisions include spousal support limitations and marital property classification and division. Spousal support limits often have stair step provisions, so the possibility of alimony increases if the marriage lasts. Marital property classification and division is often the most time-consuming part of a divorce. Settling these matters in advance could save everyone a lot of time and money later.
Breaking a Prenup
Even the most well-drafted premarital agreement is not completely ironclad. A judge will invalidate a prenup, or at least portions of it, if the agreement was involuntary or unconscionable.
Involuntary could mean extreme pressure to sign, like “You’re not leaving this room before you sign on the dotted line.” More frequently, involuntariness involves one party’s fraud. If Husband conceals assets from Wife, she doesn’t know what she is signing, and the agreement is therefore involuntary.
Unconscionable is not synonymous with uneven. An 80-20 division is uneven. However, that division could be enforceable. People sometimes voluntarily agree to one-sided agreements. A division like “You get all the debts and I get all the assets” is unconscionable. As a matter of law, people cannot voluntarily agree to unconscionable divisions.
In both cases, the judge must only consider the circumstances at the time of the signing. Wife cannot claim Husband defrauded her if Wife had independent access to relevant financial documents. Husband cannot argue that a stock division was unconscionable if the stock was worthless at the time of the marriage.
Work With a Compassionate Palm Beach County Lawyer
Divorce and related matters almost always involve financial and emotional issues. For a free consultation with an experienced Jupiter family law attorney, contact Caroline Olson, P.A. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start working for you.