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.
What would make a prenuptial document invalid?
Executing a prenuptial document involves far more than writing your signature on the bottom line of a piece of paper. It's crucial that you clearly understand the contents of the agreement and that the process you use to forge your contract is legal and binding. If one or more of the following has occurred in your case, you may want to seek immediate assistance to determine whether your existing prenuptial agreement is valid as the answer to the question may greatly influence your divorce:
- The central component of a valid prenuptial agreement is a physical document. If you and your then-intended spouse simply shared your thoughts with each other and made sincere promises and agreements verbally, then you are lacking the main item necessary for legal enforcement of your contract, the paper on which it is written and signed.
- If you were already married when you signed your premarital agreement, then it is not valid.
- Any type of duress from either of you toward the other at the time you sign a prenuptial agreement also renders it invalid. In other words, this type of contract is only valid if you knew what you were signing and agreed to it of your own free will without external pressure of any kind.
- The old honey-please-sign-here version of a contract won't fly in court. You had to have read every word of your proposed agreement before adding your signature in order for the court to legally enforce its stipulations.
- If you happen to have included any mention of child support in your prenuptial agreement (whether or not you had children at the time), a judge may strike those particular clauses from the contract or may decide to invalidate the entire agreement.
- Florida requires official notarization of prenuptial agreements. If legal advocates are involved, each spouse must secure his or her own representation.
It's also essential you were indeed married to the person with whom you forged a prenuptial agreement. If you sign a prenup contract but never legally marry, the agreement is not binding in court.
Many people ask experienced family law attorneys to review their prenuptial contracts before signing. This is a good way to ensure clear explanation of all legal terminology, which can help prevent unwanted surprises if divorce proceedings take place at some point.