Most Floridians who are preparing to enter a marriage where the couple will own significant assets are advised to sign a prenuptial agreement to avoid any disputes about property division, spousal support or child support in the event of a divorce. A large number of prospective spouses accept this advice, only to discover after a divorce that the financial or other terms of the premarital agreement are oppressive or unfair. Can anything be done to remedy the situation?
The answer is “sometimes.” Florida law provides clear standards for annulling a prenuptial agreement, but the person seeking to invalidate the agreement must prove the existence of circumstances that justify this judicial relief.
Failure to adhere to statutory formalities
In order to be enforceable, all premarital agreements must follow certain formalities. A premarital agreement must be inwriting and signed by both parties. Oral agreements are not enforceable. Also, a premarital agreement must be witnessed by two competent adults. The failure to meet this requirement will also lead to invalidation of the agreement. Most premarital agreements are drafted by competent family law attorneys, and failure to abide by the stator formalities is a very rare occurrence.
Fraud and duress
The more common reasons that can lead to the invalidation of a premarital agreement are proof that the spouse who is trying to escape from the agreement was forced against his or her will to sign the agreement. Duress can take many forms, too many to be described or summarized in a brief blog post. Fraud usually consists of the concealment or misrepresentation of financial matters by the spouse who is attempting to enforce the agreement.
Premarital agreements in Florida are void if the spouse seeking enforcement of the agreement has concealed material information about his or her net worth, pre-marital debts or the status of real property.
If a premarital agreement was unconscionable before it was signed, and if the party objecting to the agreement was denied the opportunity to seek review of the agreement by an independent attorney, the agreement will not be enforced.
Anyone wondering about the enforcement of a premarital agreement may wish to consult an experienced family law attorney. A knowledgeable attorney can provide a helpful evaluation of the facts of the case and an opinion on the likelihood of a judge finding the agreement to be unenforceable.