Many Floridians use premarital agreements before marriage to put into place binding contracts with their spouses-to-be that predetermine the resolution of certain future marital issues. Usually, people use premarital (also called prenuptial or antenuptial) agreements to settle money and property issues at divorce or death.
The future spouses can agree to handle issues about alimony, property division and inheritance in a “prenup” in ways they prefer, even if different than how a court would settle the matters.
Premarital agreements in Florida
In Florida, because of our relatively high numbers of older residents, people more commonly enter second or multiple marriages within our borders. When a person remarries and has children from a previous relationship, they may have concerns that property, money or heirlooms that they want to leave to their own kids will instead go to the new spouse (and eventually to the spouse’s children through gift or inheritance).
This is a common reason people use premarital agreements, but there are others. (The law does not allow a term that would negatively impact a child’s right to support, nor may alimony restrictions make a spouse destitute enough to qualify for public assistance if the couple separates or divorces.)
Florida Uniform Premarital Agreement Act
In 2007, Florida put into effect the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act that sets out specific state law requirements for a valid agreement. The Act grew out of historical problems with spouses abusing prenups by pressuring their spouses-to-be to sign agreements that they did not understand, that were grossly unfair to signing spouses or that were executed without the signing spouses knowing what they were giving up because their partners concealed the extent of their wealth.
In addition, an engaged person all too often foisted a prenup on their future spouse right before the ceremony without giving enough time to consult an attorney or to think it over – and they were presented as a requirement of going through with the wedding. So, Florida prenuptial agreement law is a response to these historical problems.
In part 2 of this post, we will elaborate on why it is important not to rush through the premarital agreement process as well as precautions driven by vagueness in the statutory text.