As family law and divorce attorneys, we are routinely questioned about the enforceability of Prenuptial Agreements and Marital Settlement Agreements in Florida. We always counsel our clients about the seriousness of these agreements, and the fact that you may be “stuck with” what you agree. While there are situations when these agreements can be set aside, this is becoming increasingly harder, especially in light of the Florida Supreme Court’s opinion in Hahamovitch v. Hahamovitch, No. SC14-277 (Fla. Sept. 10, 2015).
Florida Supreme Court Clears Confusion Concerning Prenuptial Agreements
In Hahamovitch, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that the former wife had “freely and voluntarily” entered into the prenuptial agreement, and thus, waived any and all interest in property titled in her former husband’s name. This even includes property or assets that were obtained or increased in value during their 20-year marriage. While the former wife will still receive the $1.9 million the prenuptial agreement promised her, the former husband gets to keep everything he acquired during their 20-year marriage, amounting to over $10 million in assets.
The former wife argued that the prenuptial agreement did not specifically refer to the enhanced value of the former husband’s property due to marital labor and funds, nor did it state that the former husband’s earnings would be considered his separate property. However, the Supreme Court decided that the phrasing was so broad that a few missing words didn’t matter. The justices said if the document shows one spouse’s intent to waive all interest in the other spouse’s assets, when the marriage ends the disadvantaged spouse can’t break the prenuptial agreement and share them.
Justice Ricky Polston wrote for the court:
Based on the plain meaning of this language, any property the husband owned at the time of execution of the premarital agreement and any property the husband acquired in his name after the execution of the agreement, including any enhancement in value or appreciation of such properties, are the husband’s nonmarital assets.
The Court’s decision emphasizes the importance of the specific language used in not only prenuptial agreements, but all divorce and family law agreements. Florida law treats these prenuptial agreements and marital settlement agreements as contracts. Before entering into any agreement regarding prenuptials, divorce, division of marital assets, or any other family law related matter, it is important to consult an experienced family law attorney to review the language and discuss the ramifications of entering into the agreement.
Get Legal Advice for Any Agreement Related to Marriage
If you are considering entering into a prenuptial agreement, postnuptial agreement, or if you are in the process of a divorce, contact the experienced family law attorneys at the Law Office of J.J. Talbott immediately for a consultation to discuss your rights. We can help you with all of your family law needs. For more information, call (850) 437-9600.