When you sign a prenuptial agreement know exactly what property you are waiving

On September 10, 2015, the Florida Supreme Court decided the HAHAMOVITCH v. HAHAMOVITCH, Fla Supreme Court 2015, Prenuptial Agreement Case.  Family law attorneys have been waiting for this decision regarding prenuptial agreements to resolve the conflict that existed among the District Courts in Florida. The decision resolved a conflict that existed between the Fourth District (no specific waiver required in prenuptial agreement) Hahamovitch v. Hahamovitch, 133 So. 3d 1008, (Fla. 4th DCA 2014) and the Second District in Irwin v. Irwin, 857 So. 2d 247 (Fla. 2d DCA 2003) and the Third District in Valdes v. Valdes, 894 So. 2d 264 (Fla. 3d DCA 2004) (which required a specific waiver in prenuptial agreement).

The issue is whether a general release to non-marital properties is sufficient to waive any active appreciation in value (i.e. value increase due to marital efforts).

To summarize, the Florida Supreme Court approved of the Fourth District’s prior opinion, and determined that a general waiver of all marital claims and property rights in a prenuptial agreement is sufficient to waive any interest in property created during a marriage because of marital efforts. Even if there is not a specific waiver of marital claims related to a spouse’s earnings, or assets acquired with those earnings, or the enhanced value of the other spouse’s property resulting from marital labor or funds the interests are waived.  This is a big deal.

Before they married, Dianne and Harry Hahamovitch entered into a prenuptial agreement. The two remained married for twenty-two years. In 2008, the parties filed for dissolution of marriage. The trial court concluded that the prenuptial agreement was valid. The Fourth District Court of Appeal upheld the conclusion and concluded that the language of the agreement was broad enough to waive Dianne’s right to any asset titled in Harry’s name that was acquired during the marriage or that appreciated in value due to marital income or efforts during the marriage. Hahamovitch v. Hahamovitch, 133 So. 3d 1008, 1016 (Fla. 4th DCA 2014).

The Supreme Court affirmed the court of appeal’s decision, holding that, where a prenuptial agreement provides that neither spouse will ever claim any interest in the other’s property, states that each spouse shall be the sole owner of property purchased or acquired in his or her name, and contains language purporting to waive and release all rights and claims that a spouse may be entitled to as a result of the marriage, those provisions serve to waive a spouse’s right to any share of assets titled in the other spouse’s name, even if those assets were acquired during the marriage or appreciated in value during the marriage due to the parties’ marital efforts.

This decision reinforces the idea that you should seek legal advice before signing a prenuptial agreement. You should have a thorough understanding of what you are waiving.  Seek the advice of an experienced Family and Marital Law Attorney.

For a consultation on this issue or other Family and Marital Law matters call the Law Office of Debora A. Diaz to schedule a consultation. Know your rights.


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