A reminder from the 3rd DCA on how duress can invalidate a prenuptial agreement
On July 19, 2019, the Third District Court of Appeal issued its opinion in Ziegler v. Natera, No. 3D19-86, 2019 Fla. App. LEXIS 10818, at *1 (3d DCA July 10, 2019). In Ziegler, 6 days before a marriage in Venezuela, the future husband presented his pregnant future wife with a pre-marital agreement, and promised that he would provide her with financial disclosure prior to the wedding. Instead of doing so, he threaten to cancel the wedding if she did not sign the document. The cancellation of the wedding would have interfered with the plans that the parties had to emigrate to the United States. The Miami-Dade County trial court found that the pre-marital agreement was entered under duress, and set it aside.
The Third District affirmed, citing the fact that "'[I]t is black letter law that the parties to an antenuptial agreement do not deal at arm[']s length with each other.' Rather, '[t]heir relationship is one of mutual trust and confidence.' As such, 'the parties must exercise the highest degree of good faith, candor[,] and sincerity in all matters bearing on the terms and execution of the proposed agreement, with [f]airness being the ultimate measure.'" Id. (internal citations omitted omitted). The court found that, under the circumstances, the Wife was coerced by means of a wrongful threat such that the exercise of free will was precluded[.]" Id.
The circumstances surrounding execution of a pre-marital agreement are almost as important as the text of the agreement itself. At Jeffrey Law, we understand the emotionally sensitive nature of negotiating pre-marital agreements, and assist our clients with navigating the process from preliminary discussions through the date of signing, so as to ensure that process is as smooth as possible and, most importantly, that the underlying agreement is valid and enforceable. If you need assistance with a pre-marital agreement, Jeffrey Law, PA, stands ready to assist. Contact us at: Office@RSJLegal.com or 305.222.7921, to schedule a consultation.
Robert Stone Jeffrey, Esq., is an attorney admitted to the Florida Bar in 2010, the United States District Court for the Middle District of Florida, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Florida, and the Supreme Court of the United States. Mr. Jeffrey has experience handling complex and high asset family law disputes, and has authored chapters in various publications relating to Florida family law. Mr. Jeffrey is currently a member of the Family Law Section of the Florida Bar Rules and Forms Committee. Mr. Jeffrey was named a 2019 "Top Up and Comer" by South Florida Legal Guide and a "Rising Star" by Superlawyers, and was awarded the prestigious AV Rating by Martindale-Hubbell (2017 – 2019), as “Peer Rated For Highest Level of Professional Excellence.” Robert also has a perfect 10/10 rating byAvvo.com, and various client reviews can be accessed through that platform. Seehttps://www.avvo.com/attorneys/33134-fl-robert-jeffrey-3341362.html. More information about Mr. Jeffrey, and Jeffrey Law, PA, can be found at www.rsjlegal.com.
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