Posted by Nydia Streets of Streets Law in Florida Prenuptial Agreements

Parties to a prenuptial agreement in Florida are not viewed as dealing with each other at arms’ length. This means the spouses-to-be are fiduciaries and it is expected that they will be fair, honest and open in entering an agreement with each other. This is why Florida prenuptial agreements are viewed differently than other contracts. In the case Ziegler v. Natera, 3D19-86 (Fla. 3d DCA July 10, 2019), the appellate court considered an appeal of a decision to set aside an antenuptial agreement.

The parties were married in Venezuela in 2011. Six days prior to their wedding date, the husband presented to the wife a prenuptial agreement and promised to provide financial disclosure prior to the wedding. The wife, who was pregnant, alleged that the day before the wedding, having not received any financial disclosure, the husband threatened to cancel the wedding and told the wife that if they did not obtain the marriage certificate on the planned ceremony date, they would not be able to move to the United States as planned. The wife therefore reluctantly signed the agreement.

Less than six years later, the husband filed for divorce. The wife then moved to set aside the agreement, claiming it was signed under duress, lacked financial disclosure and was unconscionable. After a hearing, the trial court set aside the agreement, finding there was inadequate financial disclosure and that the agreement was signed by the wife under duress. The husband appealed.

The appellate court sided with the wife and upheld the trial court’s decision, holding “Here, the testimony established that the husband initially presented his pregnant wife with the disputed document six days before the wedding. At that time, the wife requested he produce evidence regarding his holdings and net worth. The husband assured the wife such evidence would be forthcoming. In lieu of honoring his pledge, the day before the wedding, the husband demanded execution, with the added ultimatum of ‘[n]o agreement, no wedding.’ He further threatened life-altering consequences, by imperiling their shared, long-term plan to begin life anew with their children in the United States. We conclude that these circumstances, unrebutted by the husband, are sufficient to support a finding of duress.”

This case shows us why a prenuptial agreement must be entered carefully. If you are considering entering such an agreement, it is important that you speak to a Miami prenuptial agreement lawyer well in advance of your wedding date or as soon as you get engaged.