On behalf of Ronald H. Kauffman, P.A. posted in Board Certified Lawyer on Saturday, October 13, 2012.
During the first meeting with divorcing clients, I frequently bump into similar problems. Many clients make some common mistakes, and some of the suffering associated with divorce can be self-inflicted, or at least avoidable. Below I’ve listed some of the frequent mistakes I see, in the hope, you can avoid them.
Not reading your prenuptial agreement
If you are going to sign a prenuptial agreement before your marriage, you should take the time to speak to a board-certified specialist in marital and family law. The prenup may, nor may not be, in your best interests, but almost always favor the richer and more powerful party. Florida adopted the UPAA (Uniform Premarital Agreement Act). The rules for drafting enforceable agreements are now pretty clear, although the date of your agreement can have a big impact on which law applies. Alimony waivers remain somewhat problematic, because a trial court has the authority to disregard some of them. However, appellate decisions are moving towards upholding them.
Adding someone to the title of your non-marital property
Property owned prior to marriage is your non-marital property. As long as the other spouse is not joined in title, your property will remain non-marital, with one very important qualification: If there is a mortgage on the property that is paid down with marital funds, the marital estate may have a claim to the enhancement in value to your non-marital property. If you transfer the title from you alone, to you and your spouse, you may have converted the asset to marital property.
Commingling is a little like adding your spouse to your non-marital property. If you want double the price of your divorce, even if you have a prenuptial agreement, mingle all of your non-marital investment accounts money together into one account. Commingling creates a host of issues and an accounting nightmare. If you want to claim your non-marital property funds in a commingled account, you will be required to do an expensive and difficult trace of the funds using a forensic accountant. A safer way to maintain your non-marital funds is to keep them in a separate account. If you need to make cash infusions into a marital account, realize that you are probably kissing the funds goodbye.
Misplacing Important Documents: prenups, bank records, property records and investment accounts
Record keeping is not fun but has gotten a lot easier with scanning hardware and software. Bank records, investment records, tax returns and prenuptial agreements represent evidence which will become a part of your case.
Hopefully, you can avoid some of the problems I frequently run into when interviewing potential new clients.