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Florida Supreme Court Approves Broad Reading of Prenuptial Agreement

An increasing number of couples are entering into prenuptial agreements prior to marriage. While some of these agreements specifically outline how property will get divided if the parties divorce, many prenuptial agreements are very broad in nature. In a decision dated September 10, 2015, the Florida Supreme Court departed from its previous rulings, in which it had ruled that specific language was required to be in a prenuptial agreement to waive a spouse’s claims to property in a divorce. In Dianne L. Hahamovitch vs. Harry H. Hahamovitch, the Court ruled that broad, generalized language in a prenuptial agreement was enough to waive a spouse’s claim to the other’s premarital property, but also to waive a claim to any property that the spouse obtained during the marriage and titled solely in his or her name.

The Facts of Dianne L. Hahamovitch vs. Harry H. Hahamovitch

In Hahamovitch, the parties entered into a prenuptial agreement prior to their marriage in which the wife waived any rights or claims to the husband’s property. The agreement also contained a general provision that each spouse would always keep sole ownership of their respective property, whether he or she owned the property at the time of the marriage or obtained it after the marriage. Furthermore, property titled solely in one spouse’s name would remain that spouse’s sole property.

When the parties filed for divorce in the state of Florida, 22 years later, the wife argued that the husband’s property should be divided during their divorce, or at least the increase in value of the property. However, under Florida law, the Court ruled that couples are free to enter into prenuptial agreements that completely govern the division of property owned by either individual if the couple divorced in the future, even if they contain only very broad provisions.

Florida Supreme Court Disagrees with Limited Reading of Prenup

The Florida Supreme Court rejected the wife’s arguments, and ruled that the very broad language in this prenuptial agreement was sufficient to waive the wife’s right to any of the husband’s property. In this case, since the wife freely and voluntarily entered into a prenuptial agreement that waived any right or claim that she might have to her husband’s property, she was stuck with the terms of the prenuptial agreement. It did not matter whether the husband owned the property prior to the marriage or after the marriage. This was the case even if the parties used marital assets to purchase or improve the value of the property at issue.

Consult a Florida Divorce Attorney Today

Prenuptial agreements can be complex, and the Supreme Court’s ruling in Hahamovitch will have significant consequences for both those spouses who already have executed prenuptial agreements and are now facing divorce, as well as those who are not yet married and looking to enter into a prenup. Contact Vanessa L. Prieto Law Offices, LLC, today, and schedule a consultation with an experienced Florida divorce lawyer, who can give you proper advice about the repercussions of certain provisions in a prenuptial agreement.