Florida Supreme Court Decision on Equitable Distribution Shakes Up State Prenups

This past fall, the Florida Supreme Court resolved a dispute among districts, making it easier for divorcing parties to claim individual assets in a prenuptial agreement.

The decision has been widely lauded by those representing wealthier spouses engaged in prenuptial agreement disputes. According to the justices, if the prenuptial agreement in question reflects a spouse’s intent to waive any and all interest in their spouse’s assets, the disadvantaged spouse can’t break the agreement or share the assets once the marriage has ended.

The ruling, which was unanimously handed down in September, stemmed from a Palm Beach County divorce case, where one ex-wife walked away with nearly $2 million, while her spouse kept all assets he acquired during the course of their marriage.

The wife argued that the agreement, which was signed in 1986, did not specifically outline enhanced value of property, or marital labor or funds. She also pointed to the fact that the document failed to state that the husband’s earnings would be designated as his separate property.

In delivering their decision, the court agreed that the agreement’s phrasing was far too broad. Any property that her husband possessed at the time the prenuptial agreement was enacted, in addition to any acquired after, was officially declared to be the husband’s non-marital assets.

Equitable Distribution in Florida

Equitable distribution refers to the various guidelines that govern the division of a couple’s assets and liabilities – otherwise known as net worth – during the course of divorce.

The basis behind equitable distribution is the proposition that a couple’s net worth should be divided equally between divorcing spouses. While this is only a preliminary presumption, the end result is not always an equal division. In fact, some assets or liabilities may be assigned to one spouse only, and not to the other – a designation referred to as “non-marital” assets or liabilities.

According to Florida state law, a judge must separate marital assets or liabilities from those designated as non-marital. The value of any marital assets will then (typically) be awarded to the spouse with a special interest or strong connection to the assets in question. However, it is important to remember that no marriage is the same, and a two-year marriage may have a very different equitable distribution analysis than a marriage that exceeded 20 years.

If you or someone you love is dealing with equitable distribution or other divorce-related issues, enlisting the expertise of a qualified attorney is a must.

The family law attorneys at the Anton Legal Group are well-versed in all types of divorce proceedings, including equitable distribution evaluations. These types of cases can be increasingly complex, and attention to detail is key in successful proceedings. From alimony, time-sharing, child support and other related issues, our legal team can provide the information, advice and support you need for your equitable distribution claim.

Divorce is never easy, but you are not alone. Our legal team is standing by, ready to assist in your equitable distribution claim. To schedule your preliminary consultation with one of our attorneys, give us a call today at (813) 443-5249.