The stereotype that it ruins the romance if an engaged person brings up the topic to their future spouse of whether they need a premarital agreement is just that – a worn-out assumption that should be relegated to the junk pile. A prenuptial agreement is a useful legal tool that can ward off headaches or unwanted consequences during the future marriage – and it can benefit both parties.
Why might a premarital agreement be desirable?
A premarital agreement, also called a prenuptial agreement, antenuptial agreement or prenup, is a valid contract between two people engaged to be married. The contract becomes binding and enforceable upon marriage. People often use prenups to protect wealth by designating how money and other assets will be distributed upon divorce or death.
A premarital agreement can change through contract what would otherwise happen to assets upon divorce or death by operation of state laws. Typical reasons people might want to do that include:
- Preserving premarital wealth
- Keeping an inheritance with the spouse who is the beneficiary
- Protecting complex or lucrative investments
- Keeping high debt with the debtor
- Directing that a family business stays with the family of its origin
- Protecting family heirlooms, money and assets for children from previous relationships
- Protecting one spouse from the other’s tendency to overspend
- Planning for college or graduate school tuition
- Preventing a spouse or child from receiving money they may use to feed an addiction
- Deciding whether to plan for alimony or spousal support upon divorce and if so, its amount
- Protecting retirement assets from division
- And many others, sometimes extremely personal or unique
A prenup can be part of a healthy relationship
People nowadays tend to marry later in life and both spouses are likely to already be established on their career paths.
In modern times, asking your future spouse to discuss a prenup is not shameful or a sign that you love your money more than you love them. It is a responsible method of financial planning, especially if you have other people in your life you want to provide for like children or grandchildren unrelated to your fiancé, a family business to preserve or another compelling reason.
Having the prenup discussion is a sign of financial and personal maturity and is likely to enhance future trust and communication in the marriage – as well as help prevent financial surprises later. For a premarital agreement to be valid in Florida, one requirement is full disclosure by each party of their wealth, assets and debts. Without this knowledge, the parties cannot negotiate fairly.
Whether to enter into a premarital agreement depends on many things. An experienced Florida family lawyer can help you analyze your situation and explain the provisions of the Florida Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (available at the last link above).
You can give away your rights and assets through a prenup, so it is imperative that you involve an attorney, so you understand the complexities involved. Legal counsel can negotiate, draft, review, revise or reject a premarital agreement on your behalf and at your direction. A lawyer can also represent you should you later want to enforce or challenge the agreement.