The Supreme Court of Florida recently ruled against a case (Hooker v. Hooker) that provided a significant departure from previously well settled family law principles. The court ultimately agreed with the trial court’s decision that an interspousal gift of premarital real properties made by a husband to his wife was based on the means in which the parties “treated” these properties during the period of time in which they were married.
In Hooker v. Hooker, the titles to the properties were never explicitly transferred to the wife. Based on these facts, the pre-marital properties were found to both marital properties and subject to equitable distribution. The findings of the trial court were based upon the casual course of conduct and statements made during the marriage, regardless of the title holder. It is important to note that there was a withstanding prenuptial agreement between both individuals that contained provisions explicating outlining that each party was to keep their premarital property during the marriage.
This March 2017 ruling may impact individuals with prenuptial agreements crafted to protect premarital properties as it may change the way non-premarital property can become marital even without title ownership or transfer. Other property determinations may also be affected if determinations conclude that a spouse “gifted” property to the other spouse during the marriage.
It is important to note that there was an established prenuptial agreement between Hooker and Hooker that provided that each party was to remain in possession of their premarital property during the marriage.
To read a complete overview of the case, courtesy of Westlaw.