Divorce And Premarital Agreements
One fact that gets lost in all the Scottie Pippen/Larsa Pippen divorce tabloid spectacle is ta the couple had a premarital agreement which Ms. Pippen claims is invalid.
Prior to the couple’s marriage in 1997, they both signed a premarital agreement that protected Mr. Pippen’s estimated $50 million estate; the former NBA star earned much more than that during his playing career, but reportedly lost much of it due to poor investments. Ms. Pippen claims that the couple mutually rescinded the agreement in 2016, but details about this “agreement” are limited at the moment.
The Pippens have four children. In court filings, he has demanded custody so he can move the children to Chicago; she wants the children to remain with her in Miami.
Making Premarital Agreements
Once reserved for only high-asset marriages, premarital agreements are more and more common today, especially if either spouse has been married before. In addition to clarifying financial matters before the disagreements have a chance to boil over into costly litigation, premarital contracts almost entirely remove money from the equation during the marriage, and financial matters are among the most frequently-cited reasons for divorce.
Premarital agreements can also address non-property matters, which is another reason they are so popular in subsequent marriages. Step-children are often a blessing, but their presence often creates confusion in succession matters, so family businesses that were running very effectively can come to a crashing halt. Similarly, uncertainty over inheritance matters often quickly blow up into protracted and expensive probate litigation that no one really wants.
Florida, like most other states, has adopted the Uniform Marital and Premarital Agreements Act. Under the UMPAA, child custody and child support are about the only off-limits topics. Other than that, property agreements can define inheritance lines, classify property as marital or nonmarital, and divide it in advance. These contracts can be modified at almost any time by mutual written agreement.
Breaking Premarital Agreements
There is a strong presumption in the law to ratify agreements between the parties whenever possible to avoid litigation, and family law is no exception. So, although no premarital agreement is “ironclad,” persons wishing to unilaterally overturn these agreements face uphill climbs.
- Involuntary: Physical coercion rising to the level of “you’re not leaving this room until you sign” renders property agreements invalid, as does withholding important information. In the latter instance, a challenging party must also show that the data was unavailable elsewhere.
- Unconscionable: Typically, judges draw the line between “uneven” and “unconscionable” based on the facts. There is also a part two, as the agreement must have been unconscionable when it was made. For example, if near-worthless stock later becomes very valuable, the initial division agreement probably isn’t subject to review.
Nearly all property agreements contain severability clauses, so if one particular part is invalid, the remainder is unaffected.
Speak With Experienced Lawyers
Premarital agreements have benefits before, during, and after the marriage. For a free consultation with an assertive family law attorney in Port St. Lucie, contact Eighmie Law Firm, PA. Convenient payment plans are available.