4th District Court of Appeals raises question about prenups
A case out of the 4th District Court of Appeals certified a question to the Florida Supreme Court this month that could have a significant impact on all of Florida’s district courts, pending a decision. The question posed to the high court concerns the language used in a prenuptial agreement that waives a spouse’s right and claim to their spouse’s property and whether such language applies to any share of assets titled in their spouse’s name but is acquired during the marriage.
In the case Dianne L. Hahamovitch n/k/a Dianne Lynn v. Harry H. Hahamovitch, the wife argued in her appeal that the trial court erred in its decision to uphold the couple’s prenuptial agreement stating that it was not valid in the first place and that the court had misinterpreted the language that defined her rights and claims to marital property. But the recent decision made by the 4th District Court of Appeals may not have been the outcome she was expecting.
In its ruling about the validity of the prenuptial agreement, the court pointed out that it had not been a product of “fraud, deceit, duress, coercion, misrepresentation, or overreaching” and had made several provisions for the wife. Testing the current case against already established cases helped the court to affirm the trial court’s decision to uphold the agreement upon the couple’s divorce.
When making its ruling on whether the trial court misinterpreted the language of the agreement, the court took a similar approach and tested it against another established case. After looking carefully at the language of the agreement and pointing out that the current case failed to meet the tests established by the prior case, the court determined that by signing the prenuptial agreement, the wife effectively waived her rights and claims to marital assets that were in her husband’s name.
Although the court of appeals may not have given the wife the exact determination she may have liked, by certifying the question to the Florida Supreme Court she might get clarification on whether she can appeal her case again. And because this case conflicted with similar rulings that have been made in other districts, a decision made by our Supreme Court will clarify how all districts should handle similar matters in the future.
Source: Florida’s 4th District Court of Appeals, “Dianne L. Hahamovitch n/k/a Dianne Lynn v. Harry H. Hahamovitch,” Jan. 8, 2014