Prenuptial agreements can be a very important part of the process for some couples planning to wed. The agreements can allow both partners to reach an agreement at a time when their views are not colored by the pain and stress of a marriage’s recent or impending demise. One of the key things in ensuring that your prenuptial agreement is successful is ensuring that it is written carefully, unambiguously, and with an appropriate level of detail. This is important because the courts will seek to enforce your agreement as it is written. For advice and representation regarding the creation or enforcement of your prenuptial agreement, contact an experienced South Florida divorce attorney.
Michel and Sherrone were a couple who had a prenuptial agreement that was the crux of their family law litigation. The couple’s agreement stated that neither spouse would, in the event of divorce, receive any type of spousal support from the other. However, the agreement did state that the husband or one of his companies would pay the wife a salary of $6,000 per month for 24 months.
Ultimately, the marriage did end in divorce. The trial judge in the couple’s divorce case concluded that the prenuptial agreement was valid and enforceable. The court acknowledged that the agreement made it clear that the spouses were renouncing their right to collect alimony. However, the court went on to rule that the salary payments owed to the wife would be in the form of durational alimony.
The husband appealed, and he won. The appeals court concluded that the trial judge’s ruling on alimony was not consistent with the terms of the prenuptial agreement. If a court decides that a prenuptial agreement is valid, it must enforce the document as written. There are certain things that two people cannot do in the framework of a prenuptial agreement. They cannot, for example, include an agreement regarding child custody or child support within their prenuptial agreement. (These are things the court must decide based upon the best interest of the child and the child support guidelines.)
On the other hand, alimony is an area in which the spouses have broad leeway in terms of the decisions they make in a prenuptial agreement. In Michel’s situation, he agreed, within the terms of the prenuptial agreement, to pay Sherrone a salary of $6,000 per month for 24 months, either directly or through one of his companies. He did not agree to pay alimony. The difference in the characterization of the payments was important. In addition to possible differences in terms of income tax consequences for Michel, the difference also mattered in the event that there was a problem with the payment. Non-payment of alimony would entitle Sherrone to go to court and ask a judge to find Michel in contempt, which could possibly include incarceration as a penalty. Non-payment of a salary would only entitle Sherrone to go to court and file a breach of contract action against Michel. The consequence of an unsuccessful result for Michel in that type of case would only be an award of money damages to Sherrone.
When it comes to prenuptial agreements, or any other area of family law, you should protect yourself by having experienced legal representation. Skilled Miami prenuptial agreement attorney Sara Saba has been providing reliable advice and strong advocacy to her clients for more than 13 years. Our team is dedicated solely to meeting your family law needs. Contact us online or by calling (305) 450-8009 to schedule your consultation. Hablamos Español.
More blog posts:
New Law Gives Divorcing Spouses More Options in Florida, Miami Divorce Lawyer Blog, March 29, 2018
Music Star Mary J. Blige’s Husband is Back in Court, Seeking an Increase in Alimony, Miami Divorce Lawyer Blog, Feb. 23, 2018