A prenuptial agreement, or prenup, is a contract entered into by each partner before marriage defining their property rights in the event of a divorce. Such an agreement is used to help protect and divide the assets and debts a couple brings into a marriage. Prenups can have predetermined expirations or last until the marriage ends. Certain situations can invalidate the prenup, so it’s best to know all the conditions before signing any agreement.
You may sign a prenup to protect the personal wealth or company assets you will bring into a marriage. Or you may sign a prenup to protect your partner from your pre existing debt. There are numerous reasons to sign a prenup, and not all are related to finances. How long does a prenup last? The team of prenuptial lawyers at the O’Mara Law Group in Central Florida can answer this and other questions about prenuptial agreements.
Do Prenups Expire?
In Florida, the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act governs prenuptial agreements. This act is a multistate law that determines how courts enforce prenups. In the Sunshine State, this act is codified under Chapter 61, Dissolution of Marriage; Support; Time-Sharing.
Like other U.S. states, prenuptial agreements generally do not expire in Florida. The terms of a prenuptial agreement are activated by death or divorce. Regardless of which state the prenuptial agreement was written in or where you move, there should be no expiration date in your prenup.
There are many reasons people choose to get a prenuptial agreement before their marriage. Most often, they wish to protect financial assets, such as:
- Bank accounts
- Retirement savings
Prenups can also protect non-financial interests, including:
- Heirlooms with sentimental value
- Family pets
- Children’s visitation, custody, guardianship, and parenting time
However, you can also use a prenup to protect yourself if your partner enters the marriage with significant debt. Some debt could open your marital property to creditors without a valid prenuptial agreement.
Another important purpose of a prenup is to outline the rights and duties of each party regarding any assets acquired during the marriage. This includes assets acquired jointly and individually. An experienced family lawyer will help you determine which parties have the right to manage and control specific assets and properties within the marriage.
A prenup can prove essential if one of the marriage partners:
- Owns a business
- Receives a significant gift or inheritance
- Has a high net worth
A well-designed prenup also explains the division of debts and assets if your marriage ends.
What Is a Sunset Clause?
A sunset clause is an expiration date in a contract, statute, or regulation. Sometimes referred to as a sunset provision, you might include it in your prenup as an act of good faith. For example, you might ask your lawyer to write a sunset clause to invalidate your prenup after the following predetermined times:
- Twenty years of marriage
- The birth of a child
- The debt-bearing partner repays their pre-marriage debt
If your marriage lasts past the preset deadline in the sunset clause, the prenup will automatically expire and become invalid.
Like most contracts, prenuptial agreements are not typically romantic. However, a sunset agreement can reassure your partner of your intentions. While a sunset clause can take the sting out of requesting a prenup, you are under no legal obligation to add it to your agreement.
What Makes a Prenup Invalid?
Similar to other contracts, certain actions, inclusions, and events can invalidate your prenup. Before you sign a prenuptial agreement, it is important to consult an experienced attorney.The following are some examples of circumstances that can invalidate a prenuptial agreement.
Undisclosed assets: For your prenup to be valid, both parties must understand the financial situation before signing the agreement. Otherwise, a court may find the prenup invalid.
Coercion: Sometimes, one party may be coerced into signing the prenup. The spouse or other family members may put undue pressure on one spouse to sign the agreement. The court might invalidate your prenup if someone coerced your spouse into signing it.
Insufficient mental capacity: Similar to coercion, if you can prove you lacked the mental capacity to understand the prenup when you signed it, the court may invalidate your agreement. Examples of insufficient mental capacity include if one party signed the agreement when they were:
- Under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- A minor
- Mentally incompetent due to a psychological disability
Improper execution: Your state’s laws specify how to properly execute a prenup. Florida requires that a prenuptial agreement be in writing and signed by both parties. Other states may have additional requirements. If you don’t follow the requirements, a court may invalidate your prenuptial agreement.
Unconscionable clauses: Generally, the court will accept a well-drafted prenup as long as it is not extremely one-sided, results in financial hardship, or contains outrageous provisions. Examples of unconscionable clauses include:
- Specifying that one partner receives nothing in the event of a divorce
- Defining the frequency of marital intercourse
- Requiring certain physical attributes be maintained
- Limiting one partner’s activities
Can You Change a Prenup?
You can change a prenup under specific circumstances. The Florida statute on premarital agreements specifies that your prenup can be abandoned, revoked, or amended only if both parties sign a written agreement.
Those couples who did not enter prenuptial agreements can still create them after their marriages begin. These agreements are commonly called postnuptial agreements or postnups. Similar to a prenup, a postnup can help protect the division of assets and debts within a marriage. Some reasons why couples sign a postnup instead of a prenup may include:
- Having children from a preexisting relationship and the current marriage
- Discovering reckless spending habits
- Starting a company
- Receiving a significant inheritance or gift
Other Reasons To Get a Prenup or Postnup
You and your partner may choose to sign a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement for numerous reasons, and not all of them focus exclusively on money.
For example, you may choose to define your roles within the marriage. If one partner has a habit of contributing little to the marital finances or roles within the home, this can lead to frustration for the other partner. Predefined roles and duties within the relationship can help create a more equitable and happier relationship.
Regardless of the reason you and your partner wish to sign a prenuptial agreement, the experienced legal team at the O’Mara Law Group can help with all of your family law needs, including:
Rely on the O'Mara Law Group
Prenuptial agreements should be considered thoughtfully by both sides before you sign a contract. The knowledgeable attorneys at the O’Mara Law Group understand the intricate details of Florida’s marriage laws. We can help you draft a fair and equitable prenup or postnup that protects the assets of both parties while shielding vulnerable parties from unnecessary risks.
Schedule a consultation with the O’Mara Law Group today.