Florida Court Discusses Which State’s Laws Apply to Prenuptial Agreements

Destination weddings are becoming more popular, and many couples choose to wed in resort towns and vacation spots. Similarly, many couples choose to protect their assets by entering into prenuptial agreements prior to the wedding. The question inevitably arises, then, as to what state’s laws apply when enforcing a prenuptial agreement that was signed in a place other than where the couple resides. A Florida court recently addressed this issue in a matter in which the wife sought enforcement of her prenuptial agreement. If you intend to wed, it is wise to speak to a capable Florida marital agreement attorney to discuss your options for safeguarding your assets.

The Subject Agreement

It is reported that the husband and wife lived together in the husband’s home for approximately five years before they were married. One year before their wedding, the husband stated that if they were ever to marry, he wanted a prenuptial agreement. Later that year, they got engaged and decided to marry the following month when they were on vacation in Martha’s Vineyard.

Allegedly, the husband did not mention prenuptial agreements again until the day of their wedding, when he awoke the wife and told her that she had to find a prenuptial agreement to complete and sign. She found one online, and they traveled to a notary republic to sign it, finishing shortly before the wedding. After the husband died, the wife sought to invalidate the prenuptial agreement and moved to determine which state’s laws applied. The court found that Florida law applied and denied the wife’s petition on other grounds. The wife appealed.

Determining Which State’s Laws Apply to a Prenuptial Agreement

On appeal, the wife argued in part that because the agreement was entered into in Massachusetts, the court should have applied the choice of law rule of lex loci contractus in determining whether it was valid. Additionally, she argued that any exceptions to the rule did not apply. The husband’s children disagreed, arguing that the public policy exceptions to the rule precluded the application of Massachusetts law to determine whether the agreement was valid.

The court explained that while the lex loci contractus rule usually applied in assessing which state’s laws apply to contracts, the rules may be deviated from in certain instances as is necessary to protect Florida citizens and enforce a rule of public policy. In the subject case, the trial court found that Florida law applied based on a public policy exception. Specifically, other than the fact that the agreement was signed there, Massachusetts bore no connection to the agreement or the parties. Further, as one of the key issues in dispute was the decedent’s homestead, which was in Florida, the court found it appropriate to apply Florida law. Thus, the trial court ruling was affirmed.

Consult a Capable Florida Attorney

While prenuptial agreements are often thought of as being unromantic or pessimistic, they are important tools that can avoid contentious and protected litigation in the event a couple chooses to divorce. If you are interested in drafting a prenuptial agreement or were provided one by your future spouse, it is in your best interest to consult an attorney to discuss your rights. The capable Florida lawyers of Lusk, Drasites & Tolisano, P.A. are adept at helping people navigate the emotional and legal complexities of premarital agreements, and if you hire us, we can assist you in seeking your desired result. You can contact us by calling 800-283-7442 or through our form online to schedule a meeting.

 

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