Well, even if the parties complied with Florida law when they executed a premarital agreement, it can still be not only quite one-sided, but also still enforceable and valid.
What is a premarital agreement?
Florida law lets people engaged to be married enter into marital contracts called premarital, prenuptial or antenuptial agreements that take effect upon marriage. Couples usually sign “prenups” to protect property and financial interests should the marriage end in divorce (but sometimes for other reasons). For example, the terms might predetermine whether one party will get alimony or that a spouse will get a cash payout instead of an interest in the family business of their husband or wife.
Sometimes, when a marriage falls apart and the time comes to carry out the terms of the agreement, it looks very unfair to one of the parties. They understandably object to it. When will a Florida court invalidate a premarital agreement? It depends on when the parties signed it.
Standard applied to older agreements
The Florida Supreme Court created standards through case law that govern the validity of prenups signed before October 2007, when a new law took effect. Those older agreements may be invalid or modifiable if a Florida court finds either of these to be true:
- The circumstances involved fraud, coercion, duress, misrepresentation, deceit or overreaching.
- The agreement was unreasonable or unfair AND the parties fully disclosed their property, debts and income before signing OR the spouse challenging the prenup had a general idea of the type and value of the other’s property, debt and income.
Premarital agreements signed after the UPAA
Florida adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA) effective Oct. 1, 2007. The court may find a prenuptial agreement signed under the UPAA unenforceable in any one of three circumstances:
- The challenging spouse did not sign voluntarily.
- Fraud, coercion, overreaching or duress were present.
- At the time, the agreement was unconscionable (shockingly unfair) AND the challenging spouse did not know, reasonably could not have known or was not given fair, reasonable disclosure of the other person’s assets and debts; or did not expressly, voluntarily waive in writing further disclosure.
In other words, if the spouse (against which the other party is trying to enforce the prenuptial agreement) knew or reasonably could have known the extent of the other’s property and liabilities AND the agreement was unconscionable, it would still be valid.
Things can change over the years and it is impossible to foresee what the future holds, so be sure you very carefully consider the fairness and ramifications of the terms of any premarital agreement you consider signing. Get experienced, thoughtful advice from a seasoned Florida family lawyer at every stage of the prenup process – at the very least, before signing anything. Know your rights before you sign them away.