A divorce is sometimes a messy, expensive business. Many couples are aware of this fact even before they marry and, as a result, they choose to sign a prenuptial agreement. For years now, prenuptial agreements have been honored by divorce courts in Florida and all across the rest of the country. However, a recent decision by one appellate judge in another state may underscore the need for clarity and fairness in negotiating and executing these types of legal contracts.
In February, an appeals court voided a prenuptial agreement signed in 1998. During a hearing before a lower court, the wife testified that her husband forced her — against her will — to sign the agreement the night before the wedding. She also testified that he had promised to destroy the agreement if they had children. It is believed that the appeals court based its decision based on the reportedly false promise made by the husband and the forceful act asserted by the wife.
Regardless of the reason behind the decision, the decision itself may have drastically changed the value of a prenuptial agreement, at least in New York where the decision was made. This is evidenced by the number of prenuptial agreement challenges that have been filed since the appeals court ruling. Some lawyers with many years of experience in family law expect to see more challenges filed by unhappy divorcees in that state.
Although this decision was made outside of Florida, it may spur some judges in Florida to look more closely at the presumed validity of some prenuptial agreements. Understandably, it is vital to ensure that a prenuptial agreement is legal and binding. Divorce can be a long and painful process, but by having the correct legal documents in hand at the beginning, the end should be easier and in conformity with any prior written agreement between the parties.