Expert Guidance When Handling Pre- and Post-Marital Agreements
When you get married, it is likely your thoughts are purely optimistic. You and your spouse are looking forward to a happy and long life shared together. While it is great to think positively, there are also reasons to make sure that you are able to protect your assets in the event that things don’t go how you would sincerely like them to. Considering making pre-marital and post-marital arrangements shouldn’t be seen as a sign of your lack of confidence in the marriage. Rather, it’s making certain that you and your spouse receive equal protection and clarity if your marriage ends sooner than you might expect.
The potential for divorce is certainly not something that is comfortable for anyone to think about at the beginning of what you hope will be a happy relationship. Indeed, the mixed emotions and tensions involved can make things more complicated. The desire to prevent anyone from feeling unnecessary pain can muddy the situation, potentially leading you to making decisions or agreements that you may regret further down the line. Which is why it is so important that you work with a seasoned and impartial expert.
When you collaborate with an In Law We Trust, P.A. family law attorney, you have the benefit of not only years of expertise in these matters, but also know how to handle the situation with both tact and professionalism. We know that there are various nuances and personal issues that can contribute to any divorce scenario, but particularly those with significant property and assets at stake that might warrant a pre- or post-marital arrangement. As the well-known divorce lawyers for men in Tampa, FL, In Law We Trust, P.A. should be your very first call. From 2014 to 2017, the law firm of In Law We Trust, P.A., was selected by the National Trial Lawyers of America as one of the Top 40 under 40 in Florida which is a professional organization by invitation only, composed of the top trial lawyers from each state or region who are under the age of 40. Our firm is renowned for our experience in representing men through challenging circumstances.
The Difference Between a Pre-Marital and Post-Marital Agreement
Technical language in legal circumstances can certainly make for a confusing divorce experience. While your family law attorney will do their best to make sure that you understand what is happening, it’s worth getting the initial definitions out of the way first.
The pre-marital agreement is usually the type that most people have some knowledge of. Popularly known as a prenuptial arrangement, or “prenup”, these are established before a marriage takes place. Contrary to popular belief, a prenup doesn’t mean that you are necessarily immune from disagreements, particularly if it is simply an arrangement undertaken without legal guidance. An experienced attorney can help you avoid potential errors and create a document that is largely binding.
The post-marital agreement, on the other hand, is not something that many people are aware they can undertake. After a marriage, your circumstances — financial or otherwise — may change and it can become clear that you need to protect yourself in the event of a divorce. These are usually done with the collaboration of your spouse alongside your attorney to make sure that everyone is treated fairly.
Understanding the Reasons for a Prenup or Postnup
The common misconception about prenups and postnups is that they are purely for very wealthy couples. This is becoming less the case. There is far more acceptance and understanding today of just how common divorces are. This realistic perspective has resulted in more couples of various means being keen to make sure that the assets they have independently invested in are protected and even that they are distanced from one another’s individual debts. It’s a sensible approach that can ease the stresses of both parties.
That said, there are some general reasons that you might want to pursue a pre-marital or post-marital agreement, and it’s worth taking a look at them to see whether they are relevant to your circumstances.
- Imbalanced Asset Ownership
This is the most common and well-publicised reason for making a pre- or post-marital agreement. Particularly in respect of the former. If you’re a relatively young couple with no significant assets on either side, there is likely to be no good reason to arrange an agreement for this situation. However, if one or both of you hold financially (or even sentimentally) valuable items that you want to make sure cannot be divided during a potential divorce, it can be important to get a prenuptial agreement drawn up. This isn’t only in the case of tangible items like houses or cars, but also any income that you bring in from work, an inheritance, or trust fund.
In the case of a postnup, either you or your spouse may have received a property or large funds as part of an inheritance or gift. While this usually has some protection under Florida law as nonmarital property, a postnup can help to formalize ownership and shield it from any contested terms.
- Alimony Limitation
Particularly if you are the main earning party in your marriage, it can be common for a divorce to see you paying some form of alimony to your spouse. While you may consider it fair that a certain amount of your property is divided between you, it can be frustrating to consider that your continued hard work will be funding your spouse’s lifestyle for sometimes years after a divorce. A prenup or postnup can be arranged to make certain that alimony either isn’t applicable or limited by certain circumstances (adultery, for instance). If you feel alimony is a fair option, a pre- or post-marital agreement can specify the duration and amount to be paid. It’s important to note, however, that this doesn’t extend to child support. Regardless of any prior agreement, Florida courts can decide that it is in the child’s best interest that you pay your spouse child support.
- Asset Control
It is not just in the case of a divorce that a prenup or postnup can be useful. If you gain property or start a business and want to make certain that you maintain control of these assets during your marriage, an agreement can be made to arrange this. This is particularly important in business where your spouse doesn’t usually have executive input but might contribute to a certain amount of day-to-day running. If there is trouble with the marriage later down the line, this could lead to turbulence in the handling of these assets. Including marital control in your prenup or postnup can prevent this.
This certainly isn’t the limit of why you might need a pre- or post-marital agreement. A good rule of thumb is to periodically consider whether there is any aspect of your current financial, property, or working status that could become complicated during marriage troubles or a divorce. You can then work with your family law attorney to understand what your options are in terms of securing your future.
A Fair Pre- and Post-Marital Agreement Process
It is never advisable to simply set out and sign a pre- or post-marital agreement privately between you and your spouse without any legal guidance. This is largely because while such agreements are enforceable during a divorce, there are regulatory aspects in Florida that dictate what is acceptable in the content and process of creating a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. If there is any possibility that you have overlooked any of these elements, or even if your behavior during the process can be interpreted as contrary to legislation, the agreement can be considered null and void.
In Tampa divorce courts, these elements include:
- Voluntary Agreement
There needs to be clarity on whether you or your spouse voluntarily agreed to the pre- or post-marital agreement. If there is an assertion that a party was forced to make the agreement, it is invalid.
- Agreement in Good Faith
It needs to be ascertained that the agreement was made without fraud, duress, or coercion being involved. In other words, if your spouse claims they were compelled by you to agree to a prenup for negative reasons, there may be grounds for it to be voided. This can be difficult to argue against if there are no independent third parties (e.g. your attorney) involved at the time of the arrangement.
- Legally Conscionable
Any pre- or post-marital agreement must be confirmed as being legally conscionable. This means that it must be determined that the circumstances and terms of making the agreement must be fair to both parties. For instance, both parties must be in receipt of clarity on the financial circumstances of one another, and both must have access to resources to establish the full extent of their spouse’s assets.
Keeping the content and circumstances of any pre- or post-marital agreement within the boundaries set by the Florida courts is always best achieved when you involve your In Law We Trust P.A. family law attorney in the process. Not only can they make sure that the terms meet the standards for the state, but they will also keep a thorough record of all conversations, documents, and situations that are relevant to the case. This means that if the agreement is contested during a divorce, you have the evidence to support your position.
Collaborating with an Expert in Pre- and Post-Marital Agreements for Men in Tampa
Pre- and post-marital agreements can be an effective route to making sure that your assets are protected in the event of a divorce. However, the process is far from simple and you need to make sure the agreement is both within legal boundaries and fair to all parties concerned. Collaborating with an attorney with experience in arranging prenuptials for estates of all sizes is your first step to making certain you have protection. Call us to discuss your needs and how our experience can be best used in your favor. We will promptly review the details of the case and provide you with the representation you need both during the creation of an agreement and in the event of a divorce. In Law We Trust, P.A. is a firm of compassion and expertise in Tampa divorce for men. We will work very hard to help and your spouse gain clarity on the potential division of assets and debts.
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