A segment aired on the ABC television show Shark Tank about a company selling cheap online prenups. There is no question a contract can be done cheaply online – especially when no lawyers are involved. But lawyers hired to create, or challenge, or defend real world prenuptial agreements can tell you if the cheap, online prenups are worth it.
“He who represents himself, has a fool for a client”
Prenuptial agreements are important documents. So, if you don’t care that your cheap, online prenup did not take into consideration any law, let alone any changes in the law, or that any of the information is current, a cheap online prenup may fit nicely next to your online medical diagnosis.
Florida Prenuptial Agreements
I’ve written about prenuptial agreements before. Prenuptial agreements are not just for tech billionaires, celebrity actors and rock stars. Prenups are about much more than just resolving who gets that expensive Montana ranch acquired during a marriage.
Any couple who brings any personal or business assets (or debts) into their marriage can benefit from a prenuptial agreement. They are important to have in place before a couple starts investing in businesses, buying properties, and accumulating mountains of debt.
But just having a prenup is not sufficient. That’s because prenups are frequently challenged in court. Florida has both case law and a statute to help lawyers, judges and the parties determine if a prenuptial agreement is enforceable.
Florida adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. The UPAA requires that all premarital agreements be in writing and signed by both parties. It is enforceable without consideration other than the marriage itself.
Couples wanting to sign one can enter into a premarital agreement with respect to their rights and obligations in any of their property, whenever and wherever acquired or located; their right to buy, sell, use, transfer, or otherwise manage and control their property and the disposition of their property if they separate, divorce, die, or any other event.
Because prenuptial agreements may be challenged in court, Florida courts must consider things such as fraud, duress, coercion, in addition to the unfairness of the agreement, and whether there was any financial disclosure.
Good, Cheap, or Fast? Choose Two
Prenuptial agreements are very technical and one size does not fit all. They are particularly important to protect your future income, children from another marriage, potential inheritances, businesses and your business partners, other assets, and your sources of income.
The last thing that you want to do is wonder if you are protected by a cheap, online prenup; one which may not be enforceable on its face. As mentioned above, Florida adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. The UPAA is Florida’s recognition that there is not always uniformity in how prenups are enforced, challenged and defended.
There are many nuances in the law of prenups which can differ from state to state. For instance, some provisions in a prenup which are available in one state – such as the ability to waive temporary alimony – may not be available in another state. There may also be differences between states about the sufficiency of the financial disclosures required.
There are also questions about privilege and confidentiality. In Florida, communications with your attorney are generally privileged. This means that communications between a client and their lawyer can be confidential. This can also mean that, absent some exception or waiver, neither an attorney or a client can be compelled to divulge confidential communications made during the rendition of legal services.
What do online, cheap prenup websites offer? As the websites plainly tell you, they are not your law firm. So, communications between you and the website are probably not privileged communications under the attorney-client privilege or work product doctrine.
This could result in your communications not being protected. And if your prenup gets challenged in court, you may be in the uncomfortable position of watching someone you thought was your lawyer testify against you.
One cheap, online prenup website said it best:
“Any Legal Information provided is not a substitute for legal advice from a qualified attorney licensed to practice in an appropriate jurisdiction.”
The JDSupra article is here.