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The Perils Of Vaguely Worded Prenuptial Agreements


The best prenuptial agreements reflect such a carefully considered resolution about the finances of the parties, as a couple and as individuals, that they can not only prevent divorce but also reduce conflicts during probate after the parties have stayed together for the rest of their lives.  Satisfactory prenups may not prevent divorce, but when the divorce happens, the prenup is clear enough that the judge interprets it the way the parties intended, so both spouses get what they want in the divorce.  The worst prenups are so flawed that judges are unable or unwilling to enforce them.  Either they are unfair because they leave one spouse wealthy and the other destitute after a long marriage, or they are so vague or self-contradictory as to be meaningless.  A Palm Beach County prenuptial agreement lawyer can help you draft a legally valid prenuptial agreement that reflects the financial values on which you and your fiancé have agreed.

Is the Appreciation in Value of Separate Assets a Marital Asset?

Only marital assets get divided in a divorce; separate assets do not.  Without a prenuptial agreement, assets you owned before your marriage began are separate property.  Income you earn during the marriage is marital property, regardless of which spouse earned it; property that either party buys during the marriage is also marital property, even if it is only titled in one person’s name.  If one spouse owned the house before the marriage but the other one moved in when the couple got married, then the house itself is a separate asset, but the change in equity that accrued during the marriage is a marital asset.

With a prenuptial agreement, you can designate some types of property as separate that would otherwise be marital.  Michael and Veronica’s first mistake was that they did not do this; their prenup said nothing about whether the appreciation of Michael’s separate assets would count as marital property.  Unsurprisingly, when they divorced after 14 years of marriage, they disagreed about this matter.

When Couples Divorce After Adultery but Not Because of It

Michael and Veronica’s second mistake was that their prenup left the meaning of the phrase “because of adultery” open to interpretation.  The prenup said that neither party could seek alimony unless the divorce was because of adultery.  In the summer of 2007, Veronica told Michael that she wanted a divorce, in part because of Michael’s communications with another woman.  Michael asked her to wait before filing for divorce, but she refused.  She filed for divorce in October, and she asked for alimony, arguing that Michael’s affair was what broke up their marriage.  Michael testified during the divorce trial that his relationship with the other woman did not turn sexual until September 2007, so his marriage was over before the allegedly adulterous relationship began.  Whatever the court decided, it would have been less costly if the parties had written a better prenup.

Contact Us Today for Help

Hiring a Boca Raton prenuptial & postnuptial agreement lawyer is a lot cheaper than trying to convince a judge that your interpretation of a boilerplate prenup you printed from the Internet is correct.  Contact Schwartz | White for assistance.



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