What Makes A Florida Prenuptial Agreement Unenforceable?
Prenuptial agreements (‘prenups’) can be of great help to a couple about to tie the proverbial knot, helping to set ground rules for what will hopefully be a happy marriage. They are generally very flexible documents in which almost any issue can be disposed of – but this does not mean that anything goes, so to speak. There are provisions which may render a carefully-crafted Florida prenup invalid. Knowing the ins and outs of these documents can help yours avoid that fate.
One of the most common reasons for a prenup to fail is the hiding of assets by one or both parties. Florida law requires that a prenup involve all assets for each party – failure to disclose implies fraud, which invalidates not only a prenup, but would invalidate most contracts. While most couples are honest with each other, it is not uncommon for a wealthy person to attempt to hide assets for a variety of reasons.
An agreement that is improperly executed will automatically be rendered unenforceable. For example, state law requires a prenup to be in writing, so if a couple had an oral agreement, it would be invalid because it was not properly executed according to Florida law. Another requirement is for the agreement to be signed and executed before the wedding – an agreement executed afterward may still be valid, though it may require additional modification.
Signed Under Duress
While it can be difficult to prove, the existence of duress will immediately invalidate a prenup. A prenuptial agreement is meant to be mutually agreed upon, via a “meeting of the minds,” just like any other contract; a failure of consent means no real ‘meeting of the minds’ has been achieved. If one party has been forced to sign, the contract is invalid.
Illegal Or Unfair Provisions
While a prenup can dispose of almost anything in terms of asset distribution and spousal support, one of the few issues it cannot regulate is that of child support. The right of a child to support is vested in the child, not the parents – in other words, the parents cannot regulate or barter away a right that does not belong to them. In addition, any provision that would place one of the parties into poverty or violate federal or state law will immediately invalidate at least that provision, if not the entire agreement.
Severable Or Not?
One thing to keep in mind in Florida is that if one provision of a prenuptial agreement is declared invalid, it may not necessarily invalidate the entire agreement. The decision to rule an entire prenup as unenforceable is generally contextual; the judge will decide whether the provision in question is actually severable from the rest of the document, or whether it is too tightly associated with the rest of the agreement and the entire contract should be thrown out. An experienced attorney can help to provide clarification in some of these situations.
Contact A Hollywood, FL Prenuptial Agreement Attorney
A prenuptial agreement can be an incredibly helpful document for many couples in several different situations, but only if it is crafted and executed properly. If you have questions about your own prenup, contacting a Hollywood family attorney at the Law Offices of Steven A. Mason, P.A. can help to get them answered. Call our office at (954) 963-5900 to speak to an attorney.