Prenuptial agreements have a long history and most people are aware of their general parameters. Not so, with postnuptial agreements. They have a shorter history. Prior to the 20th century, wives didn’t have the legal right to sign a postnuptial agreement. Thankfully, this has changed as the recognition of women as equal partners in marriage and society have evolved.
Postnuptial agreements differ little from prenuptial agreements except for two important factors. The first is obvious-the postnuptial agreement occurs after the marriage has taken place. The second is crucial if the postnuptial arrangement is to be enforced. Any post-marriage financial agreement must entail full disclosure of assets and liabilities.
Some of the most common issues addressed in postnuptial agreements include but are not limited to:
- Spousal and child support;
- Parenting plans and child custody;
- Equitable property division;
- Waiver of spousal rights;
- “Custody” of pets;
- Requirement that parties fully disclose all assets;
- Which assets are considered marital property;
- College expenses for children;
- How remarriage or cohabitation may affect spousal support;
- Insurance and retirement considerations;
- Who is responsible for which marital debts;
- How attorneys fees will be paid;
- What happens to a shared mortgage and the equity therein.
- Rights of the parties in the event one party pre-deceases the other.
A Florida postnuptial agreement may be considered legally valid and binding if it is put in writing, signed by both parties, and contain terms and conditions that are not in violation of any Florida statutes. The agreement must be free from fraud, duress, coercion, or over-reaching as outlined in the case Casto v. Casto, 508 So.2d 330 (Fla. 1987).
While some may hold negative attitudes toward pre or postnuptial agreements, if properly prepared and entered into, they can serve a beneficial financial and life planning tool. They are not necessarily a signal that one party distrusts the other. An experienced family law attorney will be able to guide you through either type of agreement so that it doesn’t become a stumbling block to happy and healthy marriage.