You Can Never Be Too Specific in a Prenuptial Agreement
Prenuptial agreements are not a vote of no confidence in your future spouse; rather, they are a set of instructions for resolving conflicts about money that might arise during the marriage, during the probate of one spouse’s estate, or in the event of a divorce. Florida law requires equitable distribution of marital property, which means that couples and judges decide on the fairest way to divide the couple’s marital assets and debts, even when this does not result in an equal division. If you and your spouse want to categorize assets as separate that the law would otherwise consider marital, you can do this by signing a prenuptial agreement. As with any legally binding contract, the more specific the provisions of your prenuptial agreement are, the more likely it is to have the intended effect. A Boca Raton prenuptial and postnuptial agreement lawyer can help you draft a detailed prenuptial agreement that reflects your wishes.
Separate and Marital Property in Marriages Without a Prenup
If you do not sign a prenuptial agreement, then all income you and your spouse earn during the marriage and all assets you acquire during the marriage are marital and therefore subject to division in divorce. Assets you owned before you married your spouse are your separate property, but if they appreciate in value during the marriage, the amount of appreciation is considered marital property. Money and assets that you receive by inheritance or from personal injury settlements is your separate property, even if you received them during the marriage. If your spouse can make a convincing argument that you used them as marital property, such as by spending the inherited money on a house where you and your spouse lived together or depositing it in a marital bank account, then the court will treat them as marital.
Can an Asset Be a Little Bit Marital?
If you do not want your spouse to have a claim to the appreciation in value of your separate assets during the marriage, you should specify this in your prenuptial agreement. Likewise, if you plan to acquire assets during the marriage that you do not want to share with your spouse, you should also indicate this. The courts have enforced prenuptial agreements that categorized assets acquired during the marriage and titled in both spouses’ names as marital property and those acquired during the marriage but titled in only one spouse’s name as that spouse’s separate property. Likewise, a prenuptial agreement can hold one spouse harmless for debts that the other spouse owed when the couple got married. It can also hold one spouse harmless for debts that the other may incur during the marriage. The court may refuse to enforce a prenup that leaves one spouse destitute in the event of a divorce, so if one spouse is much wealthier than the other, it may be a good idea to combine some of your property while leaving the rest of it separate.
Contact Schwartz | White About Drafting a Prenuptial Agreement
A South Florida family law attorney can help you draft a prenuptial agreement that will prevent conflict about spending and debts during your marriage. Contact Schwartz | White in Boca Raton, Florida about your case.