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Fort Myers Family Law Blog

Will your prenuptial agreement hold up in court?

Prenuptial agreements are an excellent tool couples can use to strengthen their relationship and protect each other from pressures brought on by complicated assets. When used correctly, prenuptial agreements offer marriages many protections that allow the marriage to flourish through circumstances that may sink other less prepared marriages. However, sometimes one spouse attempts to use a prenuptial agreement to give him or herself an unfair advantage, or to wield control over the other spouse. This is usually a shortcut to a prenuptial agreement that does not hold up under the scrutiny of the court.

Prenuptial agreements are not magic, and they do not grant special immunity against basic matrimony laws to those who use them. If a prenuptial agreement contains clauses that do not align with the law, either the clause itself or possibly the entire document may be deemed invalid by a judge.

Are you sure your prenuptial agreement is valid?

On your wedding day in Florida, you may have felt excited and a bit nervous as you took the first steps in a new relationship that you were hoping would last your lifetime. Perhaps, you also felt quite confident that you had secured your assets and identified separate ownership of your business or savings account funds by signing a prenuptial agreement before tying the knot. Those times may now be distant memories as 10 or more years have gone by and times (as well as your relationship) have changed.

No matter what events transpired that led to your marital problems, now that you have decided to divorce, you may think of many different issues that you and your former spouse will need to resolve before you can achieve a fair settlement. One of the first things you'll want to do before heading to court is make sure the pre-nuptial contract you signed all those years ago is valid.

How can I keep my high-asset divorce private?

For many couples undergoing a high-asset divorce, maintaining privacy is a very important matter. Often, when there are significant assets at stake in the divorce negotiations, it can suddenly become an issue of public interest, which is usually an unwelcome addition to any divorce. If you hope to maintain your privacy throughout your high-asset divorce, you must make it a priority as soon as possible.

One of the simplest ways to maintain privacy during divorce is through divorce mediation. Mediation sessions are generally confidential, unlike court records. If you and your spouse can agree to work through the many complex issues at hand in a mediation setting, then you can keep most of your divorce out of the courtroom and therefore out of the public eye.

What justifies reducing spousal support?

Spousal support is calculated based on factors like your income and expenses at the time of your divorce, as well as your former spouse's needs. If some of these factors change after the divorce finalizes, a spousal support order may pose an undue burden on the paying spouse, or may become entirely unnecessary. If your circumstances or those of your ex-spouse have changed since your divorce finalized, then you may have grounds to modify your spousal support obligations.

In general, courts may willingly modify a spousal support arrangement if the paying spouse faces changes in circumstance that make it very difficult or impossible to maintain the ordered payments. Similarly, some changes in the life of the receiving spouse may trigger the end of spousal support obligations. If, for instance, a person who is paying spousal support faces an involuntary reduction in income, the court may alter the payment obligation to something more manageable.

Avoid emotional choices during a complex divorce

Divorce is never pleasant, even if it is relieving. However, when the marriage involves significant assets, many spouses suddenly become unhealthy, unreasonable versions of themselves, making choices that they might not otherwise consider. If you face a high-asset divorce, you should be careful to get all the emotional and professional guidance you need to keep yourself healthy and avoid compromising decisions that could cost you immensely in the long run.

When life gets heavy and messy, many of us make rash decisions before we realize what we're doing or the consequences those decisions may bring with them. Be sure to avoid making any decisions or promises if you're feeling emotionally overwhelmed. Some spouses, in an effort to simply get the matter behind them, agree to divorce settlement terms that are exceptionally poor, leaving with them a much smaller portion of marital assets than they deserve.

New rules for collaborative divorce in Florida

New rules handed down by the Florida Supreme Court may offer some couples more flexibility to settle disagreements in a divorce. Under these new rules, more spouses may be able to find common ground on frustrating issues, especially those like alimony.

The new rules apply to couples using collaborative divorce, which allows couples to meet each other, along with their respective legal counsels, in a neutral location to work out the finer points of a divorce without the constrictions of a courtroom. Under these new guidelines, collaborative divorce is acceptable as long as both parties agree to the process and no domestic violence accusations exist within the marriage.

Who gets the ornaments? Understanding equitable distribution

If it looks like a breakup with your spouse is on the horizon, you will likely start to think of how to separate your life from your spouse and move on. It is tempting to think that you can split everything half and half, right down the middle, but soon you will realize that the half and half notion is tricky, if not impossible. Besides, some things you own are yours alone -- do you have to share them?

Enter equitable distribution. If you and your soon-to-be ex-spouse can't come to an agreement independently about property division, then you will have to take the divorce case to court. And unless you live in a community property state, which is not the case in Florida, the judge will divide the marital property using several factors to determine what is fair.

Use prenuptial agreements to create opportunity

Prenuptial agreements can be very useful for helping a couple achieve goals together inside of a marriage -- rather than weakening the strength of the relationship. When constructed with love and care, a strong prenuptial agreement can provide a framework for each spouse to better themselves through the marriage.

Prenuptial agreements cannot usually place restrictions on personal matters, but they can be used to set up a reward structure for certain beneficial behaviors, similarly to a will. In a will, a person may leave a beneficiary some property with the condition that the beneficiary only receives it upon completing college.

Beware lingering credit between divorcing spouses

When divorce comes knocking on the door of a couple with complex assets, it is often a monumental feat to separate out these individuals' financial lives. Marital property applies to both assets and liabilities, and most couples with significant assets also carry complicated debts. If you're facing a divorce and concerned about how you will address your intricately entwined financial lives, you should consider enlisting the guidance of an attorney with experience handling complex assets. Careful assistance can help you navigate this minefield and protect yourself from the dangers of having your credit remain tied to a former spouse.

Many couples choose to mingle their assets together, often borrowing money jointly. Joint lines credit are perfectly useful while a marriage remains intact, but once it crumbles, these financial liabilities become liabilities on a whole new scale. One can easily imagine how two divorced spouses could continue to harm each other if they share ongoing debt together.

Should my prenuptial agreement address digital assets?

Prenuptial agreements are an excellent tool for clearly defining whose property is whose in a marriage. These agreements are also very useful for laying out a clear framework of expectations around how that property is to be treated both inside a marriage and in the event of divorce. In the modern age, it is important to be mindful of your digital assets when you set about creating a prenuptial agreement.

One way to keep things straightforward is to maintain separate accounts when it comes to individual assets you might buy. This most commonly applies to things like an iTunes accounts or accounts with gaming services where a person purchases something he or she can access through that account. While you and your spouse may, in some cases, have overlapping purchases, it is usually simpler in the long run to keep these things separate and well-defined.