prenuptial agreement

There is probably nothing more “unromantic” than a prenuptial agreement. If you are contemplating marriage in Jacksonville, Florida, or elsewhere, what will your prospective spouse think or say if you even bring up the subject? Are you planning on failure? Isn’t a discussion that contemplates the potential dissolution of the marriage something that sows at least a few seeds of discord?

Marriage is a Serious Matter

Perhaps all this about prenuptial agreements is true, but marriage is a serious matter. In fact, if you think it is not, then you are already making a huge mistake. A properly and carefully drafted prenuptial agreement can actually strengthen a relationship. Let’s face it: If a couple finds it impossible to discuss finances before “the magic day,” how are they going to face any sort of financial issue that may be just beyond the horizon? Particularly if one or both of the prospective spouses has an important business interest, children from a former marriage, or other special obligations, a prenuptial agreement (or “prenup”) may actually be crucial to the success of your pending marriage.

Steven and Amy Had a Prenup – Sort of

“We’re in love; we can work this out ourselves.” How many times have you heard that statement? It generally doesn’t work. Take the case of Steven and Amy. They were mad about each other. They decided to get married. They even thought of a prenup, so they wrote things down … on a napkin. You know the couple better as Steven Spielberg and Amy Irving.

Of course, the napkin predated box office hits like “Jaws” and “E.T.” It turned out to be an expensive napkin for Spielberg, since the marriage dissolution cost him $100 million. Irving was able to cast the napkin aside because it omitted important terms and Irving did not have separate legal representation.

With Prenups, Careful Drafting is the Rule of the Day

Another couple may say, “We won’t use a napkin; we’ll use a form we downloaded from the Internet.” Truth be told, the online form is likely no better than a napkin. Like any serious contract, careful planning and drafting are important when it comes to prenups. Here are some pointers:

  • Don’t wait until the last minute before the wedding. If the invitations have been sent and the honeymoon booked, it can appear that the “weaker” partner has been coerced into signing.
  • Make a full financial disclosure. One of the most common reasons for a court’s refusal to enforce the prenup is that one or both of the prospective spouses failed to provide an accurate and complete financial picture.
  • Don’t make the agreement too one-sided. While it is perfectly acceptable to provide for special clauses granting reasonable protections for a prospective spouse’s business arrangements – particularly if significant value in the business was created before the marriage – tilting the agreement too far in the direction of the “stronger” party can give the court an excuse to ignore it altogether.
  • Don’t promise too much in the agreement. If one side or the other makes significant promises and then does not carry through on them, that person is in a weak position when he or she seeks to enforce the prenup.
  • Do have separate legal representation. Both prospective spouses should understand and be comfortable with the provisions in the prenup. Without separate representation, this is difficult and courts can sometimes use the fact that a spouse had inadequate representation to disregard the agreement altogether.

Do You Need a Prenuptial Agreement?

If you need assistance in drafting a prenuptial agreement, or if something has gone wrong in your marriage and you’d like to understand your rights under a previously executed prenup, contact the attorneys at Beller & Bustamante, P.L. today. Our attorneys offer our clients an intimate knowledge of the Florida family courts in St. Augustine, Jacksonville, and surrounding areas. Call us at (904) 288–4414 or complete our online form.