A divorce usually requires several written agreements to address the various marital issues that may arise during legal proceedings. These agreements could provide divorcing spouses with some control over the timesharing (custody/visitation) custody of their children, spousal support, and the division of shared property. Without an official marital agreement, the binding state laws surrounding divorce could lead to an outcome that is not optimal for either spouse.
If you are a Palm Beach County resident and are engaged or married, you should seek a skilled attorney‘s help in creating a marital agreement that could reduce the potential conflict between you and your spouse if your marriage ends in divorce. A West Palm Beach marital agreements lawyer could assess your case and recommend a contract that suits your specific needs to reduce and/or avoid lengthy and expensive litigation.
Types of Marital Contracts
State law gives judges significant discretion when deciding timesharing (custody/ visitation) child and spousal support, and marital property matters in a divorce. If spouses want to avoid court and resolve their marital issues themselves, they can do so in a marital contract. A couple could use several different agreements at different stages in their relationship, each with a distinct purpose.
A pre-marital agreement, also known as a “prenup,” is a contract a couple signs before they marry that sets out the distribution of their assets, the division of debts, and whether either spouse will be entitled to alimony in the event of a divorce. Under Florida Statutes Title VI §61.709, a prenup becomes legally binding once the couple is married. A well-drafted prenup enables spouses to set their own separation or divorce terms and could help them avoid a contentious and expensive divorce.
A postnuptial agreement is drafted after marriage and is legally binding on the spouses as soon as they sign it. This type of marital contract can address many different issues, including:
- Whether property acquired during the marriage will be considered marital or non-marital and how it will be divided
- Whether either spouse will be entitled to alimony
- Financial support for a spouse’s children from a prior relationship
- The payment of shared debts
A marital agreements lawyer in Palm Beach County could draft a valid contract containing the terms of the parties’ agreement and ensure that all of these factors are adequately addressed.
A separation agreement can be useful if a couple wants to separate but has not decided to divorce. This agreement could address issues relating to the separation, including who will live in the marital home, how the household bills will be paid, and the time the children will spend with either parent.
Marital Settlement Agreements
This kind of contract sets out all the terms of the parties’ final divorce and serves as a post-divorce manual for the couple. These terms include but are not limited to:
- Custody and support of children
- Income tax dependency exemptions
- College expenses
- Property division
- Legal fees and costs for the divorce
A knowledgeable West Palm Beach marital agreements attorney could negotiate on behalf of a spouse to ensure that the final contract is incorporated in the divorce decree.
Enforcing Marital Contracts
Because marital agreements are binding contracts in Palm Beach County, one spouse can sue the other for breach of contract and often request compensation for any damages they have incurred as a result of the non-compliant party’s actions. If the agreement has been incorporated in the divorce decree, a spouse can ask a court to hold the non-compliant party in contempt. A local marital agreements lawyer who is familiar with breach of contract, enforcement, and contempt of court actions could recommend the most effective way to secure the other party’s adherence to the agreement.
Contact a Marital Agreements Attorney in Palm Beach County
A divorce can be challenging even when both you and your spouse want to end the marriage. Maintaining some control over what will happen in a divorce could make a difficult time less contentious.
If you are about to get married or are facing a divorce, a marital agreement can be an effective way to resolve issues with your spouse without going to court. Consult with one of our firm’s West Palm Beach marital agreement lawyers to protect your legal interests. Our attorneys are experienced in handling these legally binding contracts and could recommend an agreement that meets your divorce goals.