Are Prenuptial Agreements Just for the Rich & Famous?

Written by Natalie C. Lashway | | Download
Attorney Natalie C. Lashway - Marital & Family Law, Divorce and Litigation

Attorney Natalie C. Lashway
Natalie’s practice focuses on marital & family law, divorce and civil litigation.

It is commonly believed that only wealthy individuals need prenuptial agreements. On the contrary, a prenuptial agreement may prove valuable even when assets are minimal.

What Can a Prenuptial Agreement Do?

Before diving into how a prenuptial agreement may be beneficial, one should know what a prenuptial agreement can do. For instance, prenuptial agreements can:

  • Preserve assets earned before marriage
  • Protect separate property
  • Define marital property
  • Waive alimony
  • Support estate planning goals

A Prenuptial Agreement to Limit Risk of Divorce

Without a prenuptial agreement, Florida law dictates what happens upon a dissolution of marriage. Florida law provides that each spouse is entitled to approximately 50% of all marital assets. Marital assets are generally those assets that are earned or acquired during the marriage, but can also include any increase in value of a nonmarital asset or any nonmarital asset that is commingled with a marital asset. Simply keeping assets separately titled does not protect them from being considered a marital asset. In addition to equitable distribution, Florida law allows for an award of alimony depending on the circumstances of the case.

A prenuptial agreement can be used to eliminate equitable distribution, define property rights and waive alimony in case of dissolution of marriage. A prenuptial agreement can therefore provide predictability in case of a dissolution of marriage.

A Prenuptial Agreement as an Effective Estate Planning Tool

Upon the death of a married person who does not have a prenuptial agreement, Florida law provides for certain rights for the surviving spouse. For example, the surviving spouse is entitled, among other things, to approximately one-third of the decedent’s estate and has rights in the decedent’s homestead. These rights cannot be changed by the will or trust of the decedent, but only by a marital agreement like a prenuptial agreement.

A prenuptial agreement may be especially suitable for a person with a child from another relationship who desires to pass on certain assets to that child upon their death. For example, with a prenuptial agreement, a married person may not be obligated to leave one-third of her estate to her spouse, but can instead leave as much of her estate as she chooses to her children.

Is a Prenuptial Agreement Right for You?

People getting married are faced with two options:

  • Enter into the marriage subject to the laws that govern the marriage, however those laws may change in the future; or
  • Enter into the marriage with a prenuptial agreement and choose their own rules to govern their particular relationship.

Whichever choice a marrying person makes, a qualified family law attorney can advise of the consequences and prepare a prenuptial agreement if desired.  The preparation of a prenuptial agreement is critical and should only be done by an experienced lawyer.

This newsletter is for general information and education purposes only.
It is not offered as legal advice or legal opinion.
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