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Supreme Court Upholds Prenup Affecting Equitable Distribution upon Divorce

A recent Supreme Court decision in Florida may have a significant impact on couples with prenups seeking to divide assets following the equitable distribution statute. Under the Hahamovitch case, it is possible for neither spouse to claim any right to assets acquired during the marriage or any appreciation in value of such assets as a result of marital efforts, contrary to general rules on equitable distribution found in Florida statutes.

What Is Equitable Distribution?

Florida statute 61.075 contains the equitable distribution law which provides that as a general rule, marital assets and obligations are to be distributed equally between divorcing spouses, regardless of fault. This rule primarily requires a determination of what are marital and non-marital assets and debts for any distribution to be made.

The same statute also defines ‘marital assets’ as those acquired during the marriage, individually or jointly, as well as any appreciation in value of non-marital assets which increase in value is the result of marital efforts during the marriage. Gifts between the spouses as well as other benefits, rights, and funds that have accrued during the marriage in retirement, pension, annuity, and insurance plans fall under the statute’s enumeration of marital assets.

Non-marital Assets

The same statue also enumerates non-marital assets and liabilities, particularly:

  • Assets acquired before the marriage, including assets acquired in exchange for such assets during the marriage
  • Assets acquired by gift or inheritance separately by the spouses
  • Income derived from non-marital assets during the marriage, and
  • Assets that the parties have excluded in an agreement such as a prenuptial agreement

Provision in Prenup affecting Equitable Distribution

While property acquired after the marriage are presumed to be marital in nature, they may be excluded in an agreement, such as the Hahamovitch did in a prenup that the court upheld as valid.

In this case, the Supreme Court of Florida affirmed the appellate court’s finding that the couple’s prenuptial agreement contained provisions that effectively waived each party’s rights to the other’s properties, including those that may have been acquired during the marriage and from the marital efforts of the parties, barring the inclusion of those assets in any equitable distribution.

In asserting your rights for or against an equitable distribution, bringing a case to trial may be a necessary procedure. Gary Williams, at The Law Firm For Family Law holds the distinction of being one of only 18 board certified experts in Marital and Family Law in Pinellas County, Florida.

Our firm is prepared to litigate your issues in court until you obtain the legal outcome that you deserve. We invite you to call our dedicated Clearwater family law attorneys today at (727) 531-8737 to find out how we can help your case.

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