Articles Posted in Premarital Agreements

Divorces in Florida typically split the parties’ assets and liabilities down the middle as much as possible.  Determining what is a marital asset or liability or a non-marital asset or liability can be key to whether an asset or liability will be considered in the calculations.  Before filing for divorce, you should consider the following items when thinking about equitable distribution:

  • Previous Inheritance
  • Marital Home

Former New York City Mayor Rudy Giuliani and his third wife, Judith, are currently involved in a heated divorce.  A day after filing for divorce on April 4, 2018, the parties filed for each other to produce a statement of net worth to determine assets.  The Giulianis have been married for 15 years and they do not have a prenuptial agreement.

prenupIn 2007, when Rudy Giuliani submitted his financial disclosure to the Federal Election Commission while running for president, he was worth an estimated $30 million.  The couple own properties in Manhattan and Palm Beach, Florida.  It is estimated that there is currently an estimated $60 million in assets at stake. When he married Judith, Rudy was pretty much insolvent and the money he has now was earned while he was married to Judith.  New York is a separate property state, but her participation in his success could be a factor for the assets to be split 50/50.

In Florida, mandatory disclosure applies so the Giulianis would not need to file for a statement of net worth.  Mandatory Disclosure is the procedure where financial information is automatically disclosed by the parties upon the filing of a divorce.  The parties must exchange financial information in the form of a financial affidavit and additional documents such as tax returns, bank statements, credit card statements, deeds, vehicle titles, insurance policies, etc. Mandatory disclosure must be completed within 45 days after service on the respondent.

The Florida Supreme Court, on March 30, 2017, issued an opinion in Hooker v. Hooker, 220 So.3d 397 (Fla. 2017) finding a Florida horse farm and a New York summer home interspousal gifts and, therefore, subject to equitable distribution as marital property despite a prenuptial agreement in existence.  The prenuptial agreement provided that, upon divorce, each party would retain his or her premarital assets and any appreciation of those assets. Both parties had independent sources of income from family inheritances and they maintained separate finances throughout the marriage.  The parties were married for 23 years.

giftThe Florida horse farm, “Hickstead,” was purchased in 1989 and the Hickstead deed listed “Alice I. Hooker Trust FBO, for the benefit of, Timothy I. Hooker” as the grantee.  Husband and Wife signed the mortgage on Hickstead.  When Hickstead was purchased, it was vacant land and it later became through the course of the marriage a working horse farm with 16 stalls, etc. and the marital home in one wing upstairs and the other wing was the staff apartment.  Wife was “extremely and directly involved in all aspects of the Hickstead residence which was the family’s primary home for approximately 20 years,” according to the findings of the trial court.  Wife was not limited or restricted in any way from incurring the costs and expenses of maintaining and operating a family home at Hickstead, from the Husband’s assets. Wife was provided unfettered access to the stables and horses to pursue her lifelong passion.

The New York summer home, “Lake George,” was purchased in 1997 and was titled only in the Husband’s name and only Husband signed the mortgage.  It was purchased, built and maintained as a summer residence for the family.  The Husband paid the expenses for Lake George with his independent funds and Wife was never a signatory on that account and never had access to that account. However, the Husband sent Wife a card for their tenth wedding anniversary with a picture of the property after the Wife had expressed a desire to have a home up north and both parties searched for a suitable property.

contract agreementCouples in Jacksonville and the Duval County area may need asset protection options in the event of divorce to eliminate costly litigation. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement or even irrevocable trusts are great options. However, it is important that an experienced Family Law attorney constructs and reviews these documents.

A prenuptial agreement is an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage. See Florida Statutes section 61.079(2)(a). A postnuptial agreement is an agreement between spouses who are already married that is effective immediately upon signing. Both agreements are signed with the understanding that they will determine asset and property distribution in the event of divorce, among other things.

Parties to a premarital agreement may contract with respect to the rights and obligations of each of the parties in any property of either or both of them whenever and wherever acquired or located; 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; the disposition of property upon separation, marital dissolution, death, or the occurrence of nonoccurrence of any other event; the establishment, modification, waiver or elimination of spousal support; the making of a will, trust, or other arrangement to carry out the provisions of the agreement; the ownership rights in and disposition of the death benefit from a life insurance policy; the choice of law governing the construction of the agreement; and any other matter, including their personal rights and obligations, not in violation of either the public policy of Florida or a law imposing a criminal penalty. See Florida Statutes section 61.079(4)(a)(1-8). In contemplation of a premarital agreement being signed, there must be a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party.

When the parties to a marriage believe that a marriage is over or “irretrievably broken”, there is no issue as to whether the divorce should take place.  Irretrievably broken means that there is no hope of fixing the marriage.  As long as one party to the marriage believes it is broken beyond repair, a dissolution of the marriage will ultimately happen.   A broken marriage, however, CAN be fixed by a divorce, it seems.  Well technically, the relationship is fixed, but the marriage will have  ended.  I recently came across an article about couples remarrying after divorce.  You can read the article, (“Why Do Divorced Couple Remarry” by clicking here.)  There are no available statistics that explain the exact number, but it does happen.  The article generally credits remarriage of divorced couples to the healing power of time apart.  People have the chance to forgive, to try new things or relationships, and also realize that the problems were not necessarily the people themselves—marriage is simply hard.  I personally know of a woman whose parents were married to each other on three separate occasions.

divorceA divorce does not have to go through completely before any benefit can be gained from filing for dissolution.   As a Jacksonville divorce lawyer, I have come across several cases where the filing of the divorce paperwork itself helps to save a marriage.  Mostly, it is the wife that will file for divorce and have it act as a huge wake-up call for the husband.  Although, I have seen it go both ways, however.  I imagine that the filing of the divorce petition shows the other spouse that there is a serious problem that needs addressing. Continue reading

Planning for the future in any given situation will produce a better outcome than not having a plan.  Marriage and divorce are no exception.  Having a plan is important for people of all ages, but people who marry later in life normally have more reason to plan properly.  Those entering into marriage later in life are normally more financially equipped than their younger counter parts and often have children already.  This is important, because leaving property behind for your children could be affected by  a subsequent marriage and/or divorce.  There are many planning documents that are helpful to have.  Two documents that will help make things  a bit simpler later down the line for married couples are: (1) a prenuptial (or premarital) agreement and (2)  a will.

prenuptialPrenuptial agreements can be used to lay out the understanding between couples on how things will go during the marriage, as well as what happens in the event of a divorce between the parties. Examples of topics to include would be how the couple will handle joint bills and other liabilities. A common method is for the parties to establish a joint checking account that each will contribute to for the purpose of paying household expenses.  All issues that may come about during a divorce proceeding can’t be addressed.  Things like child support and time-sharing (visitation) can’t be controlled completely by a prenuptial agreement, but it makes sense to have as many issues as possible ironed out.  Property  rights absolutely can be determined by a prenuptial agreement, and parties should consider having one in place. Continue reading

For much of 2012, the news of the Tom Cruise and Katie Holmes divorce was almost inescapable in the news media. The stories in the media all seemed to follow a similar arc -Katie Holes was brainwashed and had become a sort of zombie for Scientology. She had broken free to raise her child away from the Church. The story almost seemed like it could be from an episode of Mission Impossible –a secretive exit from her home with her child in tow to a downtown Manhattan apartment, switching cell phones and keeping Mr. Cruise in the dark. But somewhat lost in the motion picture-like drama is what may have caused the split, and how you might learn from Mr. Cruise and Ms. Holmes mistakes.

Ms. Holmes was raised a Catholic, but converted to Scientology after getting engaged to Mr. Cruise in 2005. Once the couple married and started planning to raise their daughter the problems arose.

For about 18 months prior to their split, the couple had frequent disagreements over how to raise their six-year-old daughter. Ms. Holmes seemed to bristle at the demands of raising a child according to Scientology’s rules. When Holmes exited the marriage, the couple’s settlement agreement gave her the lead role in choosing how their daughter would be educated. Holmes report ably has become a Catholic again.

seal.jpgSo, I just wrote a blog yesterday regarding how Heidi Klum officially filed for divorce from her husband Seal. I mentioned that Heidi requested primary physical custody of the couple’s four children and that the parties had a prenuptial agreement in place prior to walking down the aisle. I also mentioned, only time will tell if their divorce will be amicable or nasty.

Well, it looks as though it may be getting nasty. Seal has filed a response to Heidi’s petition and there are some discrepancies between the two. For example, Heidi refers to a prenuptial agreement in her petition alleging there is no joint or community property, whereas; Seal makes no mention of such. This can be of huge consequence, as it is estimated Heidi has a net worth around 70 million, whereas; Seal’s net worth is estimated around 15 million. Seal has asked for joint physical custody of their children while Heidi wants primary physical custody.

This is just the beginning, we’ll have to wait and see how this highly publicized divorce plays out.

heidi klum.jpgThree months after announcing an amicable separation, super model Heidi Klum officially filed for divorce from husband Seal this past Friday. Klum, 38, cited the typical divorce language, “irreconcilable differences,” in her Los Angeles County divorce papers.

Reports are suggesting that Klum has requested to be awarded primary physical custody of the couple’s four children; Leni 7, Henry 6, Johan 5 and Lou 2. Also it is believed the parties had a prenuptial agreement in place prior to saying their vows. Only time will tell if this will be an amicable divorce or whether we’ll see another nasty celebrity divorce.

If you’re considering filing for divorce and want to know how to proceed, contact an Orange Park Divorce Attorney today to schedule a free consultation.

bubba.jpgIn September 2011, after 4 1/2 years of marriage shock jock, Bubba the Love Spounge Clem, filed for divorce from his wife, Heather Dawn the Love Spounge Clem, stating the marriage was “irretrievably broken and should be dissolved.” With Bubba having a net worth estimated to be in the millions one would think that the divorce would be highly contested. Not to mention the fact that Bubba is known for making harsh and outrageous comments that often end up stirring up controversy.

However, prior to the 2007 nuptials the parties entered into a prenuptial agreement. And as of a February 13th settlement agreement it appears as though the parties’ assets were divided up pursuant to the prenuptial agreement. Bubba’s now ex wife will receive $1,150 a month in alimony payments lasting for a total of 56 months. She also will receive a one time lump sum payment of $20,000.

Further, both parties agreed, “not to interfere with, annoy, molest or harass the other party or disparage the other party in public,” with special mention made of speaking “on air” about each other. Bubba even went to his twitter account to urge his followers not to disparage his now ex wife.

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