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When will a prenuptial agreement not be enforced?

Florida residents often take each other at their word. When disputes arise, however, individuals may disagree about previous agreements they reached, including what was intended at the time the agreement was made and whether they even agreed to anything at all.

These disputes frequently arise after an individual seeks to enforce a pre-marital agreement that was entered before a marriage and divorce. Last week, this blog discussed the purposes of entering a prenuptial agreement, including the types of provisions that are commonly written. However, questions over the enforceability of the agreement or of specific provisions can arise in a prenuptial agreement dispute.

Florida law establishes certain guidelines as to the enforceability of pre-marital agreements. Under the statute, an agreement that was not entered voluntarily between the parties is not enforceable. This follow general contract law principles, as the parties to a contract need to voluntarily execute the agreement in order for it to be valid. Likewise, an agreement that was based on fraud, duress, coercion or overreaching will not be enforced.

Courts may also look at whether each party to the pre-marital agreement knew about the property and financial obligations of the other party. Fair and reasonable disclosure of property and financial obligations must be made, so if this disclosure was not provided, the court may decide not to enforce the agreement.

Aside from looking at whether the parties voluntarily entered the agreement and knew of the other party's property and obligations, courts can also examine whether the provisions in the agreement are unconscionable. This does not simply mean that a provision might work an unequal result, but that the provision is so drastically unfair it cannot be enforced. Similarly, there are some provisions that cannot be included in pre-marital agreements, like the elimination of spousal support that causes a person to be eligible for public assistance when the couple is divorced.

Source: Florida Legislature, "61.079 Premarital agreements," accessed on Jan. 9, 2016

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