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Prenuptial Agreements: Uniform Premarital Agreement Act

No matter the reason that parties enter into a prenuptial agreement, there are certain issues that may be agreed upon and other issues that Florida public policy prohibit parties from agreeing on prior to marriage.

For example, a clause in a prenuptial agreement defining a visitation or time-sharing schedule with respect to the parties’ unborn children would not be enforceable.  This is because a time-sharing schedule must be based on the best interests of a child, and it is difficult to define and anticipate those best interests before the child is born.  Similarly, a prenuptial agreement may not restrict a child’s right to financial support.

So, what may be agreed upon in a prenuptial agreement?  Section 61.079 of the Florida Statutes, known as the “Uniform Premarital Agreement Act,” specifically states that the following may be settled in a prenuptial agreement:

1. The rights and obligations of each of the parties in any of the property of either or both of them whenever and wherever acquired or located;

2. The right to buy, sell, use, transfer, exchange, abandon, lease, consume, expend, assign, create a security interest in, mortgage, encumber, dispose of, or otherwise manage and control property;

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New York Recognizes Gay Marriage. Do Floridians Have Options?

Beginning July 24, 2011, gay couples in New York will be able to apply for a marriage license.  This will make New York the sixth and largest state to recognize gay marriage.

Florida, unlike New York, does not permit gay marriage, nor does it recognize civil unions.  But there are things that partners can do to symbolize their love for one another and create certain rights and responsibilities.  You just have to be creative.

Let me give you an example.  One of the services that my firm offers is that we represent clients in name change matters.  I have heard all different reasons why a client wants a name change, including that he or she (a) has done some things he or she is not proud of and wants to turn a new leaf, (b) wants to take on the qualities of a religious or historical figure by taking on part of that figure’s name, and (c) simply does not like his or her name.

One day, a young woman came in for a consultation, and she had a touching story to tell me.  She said that she had been dating her partner for several years, and that they wanted to get married.  But, of course, Florida does not permit gay marriage.  However, this woman decided to declare her love and commitment by legally taking on her partner’s last name.  I was able to guide her through the judicial process of symbolically affirming her dedication to her partner through a name change.

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Where Is Your Prenuptial Agreement?

The following is sound advice from Mark Chinn regarding keeping track of legal documents (such as prenuptial agreements and final judgments):

I recently heard of a case where the parties are in the midst of a divorce and the prenuptial agreement signed by the parties cannot be located.  It may have been part of an “old document purge” by the law firm that drafted it.  I suggest that clients retain the originals of important documents and that they place them in a bank safe deposit box or a home, fire proof, safe.

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Divorce Saloon: Top 10 Things A Gentleman Should Do (Or Avoid) During Divorce

Divorce Saloon offers an interesting top 10 of how a gentleman should act during divorce:

1. Don’t call your soon to be ex-wife and her (female) lawyer by choice names.

2. If you are a public figure, refuse to air dirty laundry and speak about your wife’s private parts (Roseann Barr’s ex Tom Arnold, for example, made some references to her privates that very much were ungentlemanly, to say the least).

3. Don’t respond to violence from your spouse or with violence to your spouse.

4. Gentlemen can curse, but don’t go Mel Gibson.

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Kristen Houghton’s “Happiness May Be A Prenuptial Agreement”

Author Kristen Houghton brings up some interesting points in her article, Happiness May Be A Prenuptial Agreement (from the Huffington Post):

[A] pre-nup isn’t just for royals or the wealthy, anyway. Though much more common in the case of a second marriage (especially if children from a previous one are involved), a prenuptial agreement is not such a bad idea for a “first” marriage either. And you don’t have to be Donald Trump to request a pre-nup. Many young couples are either toying with the idea or have actually seriously talked about it.

The classic pre-nup is a legal contract which operates by ensuring that if a couple divorces, any possessions each had before marrying would remain their own and not be divided as part of the marital pool. You can make a pre-nup very individual, but traditionally, both sides are entitled to 50 percent of any income earned during the marriage period. If one of the partners earned little or nothing throughout the marriage, they’d be allowed to be given a percentage of their partner’s earnings and possibly part of a future pension.

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Section 61.079, Florida Statutes

Premarital agreements.—

(1)SHORT TITLE.—This section may be cited as the “Uniform Premarital Agreement Act” and this section applies only to proceedings under the Florida Family Law Rules of Procedure.

(2)DEFINITIONS.—As used in this section, the term:

(a)“Premarital agreement” means an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage.

(b)“Property” includes, but is not limited to, an interest, present or future, legal or equitable, vested or contingent, in real or personal property, tangible or intangible, including income and earnings, both active and passive.

(3)FORMALITIES.—A premarital agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. It is enforceable without consideration other than the marriage itself.

(4)CONTENT.—

(a)Parties to a premarital agreement may contract with respect to: Read more

Section 61.052, Florida Statutes

Dissolution of marriage.—

(1)No judgment of dissolution of marriage shall be granted unless one of the following facts appears, which shall be pleaded generally:

(a)The marriage is irretrievably broken.

(b)Mental incapacity of one of the parties. However, no dissolution shall be allowed unless the party alleged to be incapacitated shall have been adjudged incapacitated according to the provisions of s. 744.331 for a preceding period of at least 3 years. Notice of the proceeding for dissolution shall be served upon one of the nearest blood relatives or guardian of the incapacitated person, and the relative or guardian shall be entitled to appear and to be heard upon the issues. If the incapacitated party has a general guardian other than the party bringing the proceeding, the petition and summons shall be served upon the incapacitated party and the guardian; and the guardian shall defend and protect the interests of the incapacitated party. If the incapacitated party has no guardian other than the party bringing the proceeding, the court shall appoint a guardian ad litem to defend and protect the interests of the incapacitated party. However, in all dissolutions of marriage granted on the basis of incapacity, the court may require the petitioner to pay alimony pursuant to the provisions of s. 61.08.

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