Articles Posted in Marriage

Written by: Lenorae Atter, Attorney at Law

images.jpgThe Second Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the Defense of Marriage Act unconstitutional on Thursday, October 18, 2012. The Defense of Marriage Act is basically the proposition that marriage is only legal between a man and a woman. This is the second opinion to be state, for different reasons, that DOMA is unconstitutional, the first was by the First Circuit Court of Appeals. This time, however, the court seems to have laid greater groundwork for establishing a basis for the unconstitutionality and threshold that must be met to rule the Act constitutional.

The shift in the opinion is not that the overall outcome is different, but that the law established through the opinion gives a higher scrutiny to the issue than was done by the First Circuit Court of Appeals. The first ruling was based on a lesser evaluation of the constitution, which is the “rational basis” test. This basically is like an overseeing of the law for purposes of changing legislation in the future. The question is whether there is a rational basis for the law that has been passed. In many cases, the legislation will change to provide the rational basis rather than simply changing law because the first did not meet the standard. Therefore, the overall decision is one that can be beaten with proper wording changes down the line.

PM_NS_t128799737_540x386.jpgPaul McCartney was married on Sunday to the independently wealthy American, Nancy Shevell. A marriage, that by all accounts seems happy, was hopefully preplanned with a prenuptial agreement, protecting both from future marriage mishaps, such as divorce.

Paul McCartney’s wealth far exceeds his iconic role as one of The Beatles. It was exploited in his publicized divorce from Heather Mills, in 2008, that his wealth is over $800 million dollars and consists of music royalties, rare paintings, real estate and the like. Nancy Shevell’s wealth includes business interests and other wealth endeavors that make sense to protect.

A prenuptial agreement is beneficial when one or both parties have wealth because it protects certain assets from becoming “marital” and divisible if the marriage were to end in divorce. Protecting those assets is not unromantic, simply a smart business decision by both parties.

1345271_flores__flowers.jpgPlanning for Florida divorce before your marriage can be difficult emotionally. When deciding to use a prenuptial agreement it is important to understand that you are planning for your life together in a way that helps divide assets before and during the marriage.

Separating assets, especially if you marry later in life, can be important if you both feel that your stuff should be yours and not your spouse’s upon marriage. However, it also means that you have to think differently when entering the marriage because you do not want to use marital funds in premarital (non-marital) accounts because it mucks the water if anything were to divide you later. Non-marital assets are those things that have been purchased prior to the date of marriage, including homes, stocks, etc. However, if you use marital funds (income to you or your spouse) to increase the value of those assets, then the increased value may be considered a marital asset. When creating a prenuptial agreement it is important to know “today’s” value of the assets so you have a reference point of premarital value and marital value if the marriage were to dissolve.

If you are interested in a prenuptial agreement, you should speak with a family law attorney to understand your rights and options and how to set-up the agreement in the best possible way.


Is a Pre-Marital – Pre-Nuptial Agreement Always Enforceable in the State of Florida? The answer to this question like many – “It depends.”

The sad reality in our society is that most marriages will end in divorce. The United States currently has the highest divorce rate at roughly 50 percent for first marriages and almost 70 percent for remarriages. Fortunately, a premarital agreement can bring predictability and security to the circumstances surrounding settlement of your personal affairs following a marriage or remarriage.

The Florida Statutes define a “premarital agreement” as an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage. Such agreements may also be referred to as Florida antenuptial or prenuptial agreements, and informally as Florida prenups. The couple planning to be married decides how important financial matters will be resolved in case of divorce, separation or death.

Florida’s Uniform Premarital Agreement Act includes specific requirements needed for a premarital agreement to be valid and enforceable. First, the agreement must be in writing (a court will not enforce any verbal agreements between parties). Second, both parties must sign the agreement. Lastly, the agreement is valid without either party giving up any rights; the act of marriage is sufficient enough to create a valid agreement.

However, Florida law provides multiple ways in which a premarital agreement can be attacked or challenged. Examples include if either party can prove they did not sign the agreement voluntarily, due to fraud, duress, or coercion, or that the terms of the agreement were very unfair and one party was not provided fair access to the other party’s financial situation. For more information on this topic, see the Florida Statutes

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Written By: Lenorae C. Atter, Attorney

Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A.

1331143_piggy_bank.jpgStay at home parents going through a divorce often question how they will get through the divorce financially. In Florida, if you do not have money to hire a lawyer, but your spouse does, then you will need to file a Motion for Temporary Needs and a financial affidavit, to get attorney fees and costs associated with the divorce. Florida recognizes that if one spouse can get a lawyer, then the other spouse should be capable of the same regardless of their independent financial issues. The idea is that a party that has money should not win simply because that person holds the Benjamins.

Written By: Lenorae C. Atter, Attorney

Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A.

If you are divorcing in Florida with assets purchased before marriage, Florida law recognizes them as premarital assets and those items typically remain with the person that brought them into the marriage. In Florida family law cases, clients often wonder which party will get the engagement ring.

Written By: Lenorae C. Atter, Attorney

Wood, Atter & Wolf, P.A.


If you live and Florida and have filed for divorce and now have an agreement regarding the dissolution of marriage, then you may be attending a final hearing on the Consent Final Judgment. If you have reached an agreement that has been finalized in writing, then the next step is for one party to attend a final hearing. A final hearing requires testimony, but it is limited to the following:

number%2010.jpgIn the wake of New York’s passage of a no-fault divorce law, Woman’s Day Magazine has made a list of 10 of the more obscure marriage laws that in some cases still remain on the books in some states:

Military Marriage by Proxy. Four states – California, Colorado, Montana and Texas – allow someone to stand in for a bride or groom if they are serving in the military and cannot be present. Montana allows stand-ins for both parties.

Baby Marriage. A few years ago, it was legal for anyone under the age of 18 to be married in Arkansas with parental consent – even babies. Lawmakers forgot to add a minimum age to a law that was enacted to allow pregnant teenagers to marry with parental consent. This was fixed in 2008.

Marriage.jpgFor the first time, those without a college education are less likely to be married by the time they reach 30 than those with a college degree, according to the Pew Research Center.

Pew research shows that in 2008, 62 percent of 30-year-old college graduates had tied the knot, as compared with 60 percent of 30-year-olds who did not have a college degree. This reverses a century-old trend of college-educated adults who were less likely to be married by the time they hit 30 than those with no college education.

The Pew study showed that marriage rates for adults in their 20s have declined steadily since 1990 for both groups, but the decline has been steeper for those who did not attend college. And for the first time, the median age of first marriages is the same for both groups: 28. Since 1950, there has always been at least a two-year gap, with those college-educated adults marrying two to three years later than their less-educated counterparts.

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