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Can a Prenuptial Agreement in Florida Do What Covenant Marriages Do in Other States?


Compared to their parents’ generation, a smaller percentage of American adults below the age of 40 are married, but a smaller percentage of marriages end in divorce.  Lots of today’s young adults have divorced parents and are of the opinion that you should not marry someone unless you are sure that you want to be life partners forever.  How do you show your spouse that you mean business?  Solemnizing your marriage within your faith tradition is one way, but the family courts of Florida make no distinction between religious marriages and secular ones; the court only cares that the wedding officiant and spouses have signed the marriage license by the deadline.  In some contexts, a prenuptial agreement can give your marriage an extra layer of commitment.  The days when prenuptial agreements amounted to a vote of no confidence in the longevity of the marriage are long gone.  A Boca Raton prenuptial and postnuptial agreement lawyer can help you work out a framework for financial partnership with your spouse that is conducive to a successful marriage.

What Is Covenant Marriage?

Arizona, Arkansas, and Louisiana recognize a category of marriage called covenant marriage, in which a couple waives the right to no fault divorce.  To enter a covenant marriage, a couple must undergo premarital counseling.  They can only divorce in the case of physical abuse, adultery, substance use disorder, a felony conviction, or a prolonged separation, and before they file for divorce, they must undergo counseling by a clergy member or licensed marriage counselor.

Florida does not recognize covenant marriages.  When couples who entered a covenant marriage in another state file for divorce in Florida, the Florida courts treat it just like any other divorce case.  In layman’s terms, if you entered a covenant marriage in Louisiana, and neither of you broke your marriage vows but you can no longer get along with each other, you can move to Florida and help yourself to Florida’s no fault divorce laws.

“If … Then” Statements in Prenups Can Make Your Divorce Messier

A prenup cannot say, “The parties may not divorce except in the case of adultery or physical abuse.”  They can, however, say, “If the marriage ends because of adultery, the betrayed spouse is entitled to keep the marital home, and the cheating spouse must pay alimony to enable the betrayed spouse to keep the home, if necessary.”  Sometimes “if … then” statements in a prenup can cause more problems than they prevent.  If your prenup says, “If the wife gains so much weight that she can no longer zip her wedding dress all the way up, she forfeits the right to alimony,” the court would probably consider it unconscionable and refuse to enforce it.  Likewise, “if … then” statements can lead to battles in court over whether the condition listed in the prenup has been met.  Consider the ongoing saga of a South Florida businessman whose prenup sets very different conditions for if the couple divorces with or without domestic violence.  The couple have been fighting in court for months over whether the husband’s actions count as domestic violence.

Contact Schwartz | White About Prenuptial Agreements

A South Florida family law attorney can help you and your future spouse draft a prenuptial agreement.  Contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida about your case.



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