What a Prenuptial Agreement Means for Marriage and Divorce
A prenuptial agreement may seem antithetical to what marriage is supposed to be about: love and commitment. But having an agreement in place serves a salutary purpose: deciding in advance how the couple’s financial affairs will be settled should the marriage end in divorce.
A prenuptial agreement is a contract between parties intending marriage, outlining mutual financial roles and responsibilities, such as how expenses are to be paid and children provided for. The most common and familiar form of prenup specifies that certain property owned by either party individually remains with that party after divorce. This can counter the effect of Arizona’s community property law, which otherwise provides for evenly splitting property or other assets acquired during the marriage. A prenup can predefine that given assets, such as an expected inheritance or dividends from investments made prior to marriage, are not to be considered marital property.
Arizona law sets certain requirements for a prenuptial agreement. Both parties must voluntarily enter into it, sign a hard copy and disclose all assets to the other party. A judge could later decide that the agreement is not valid if one spouse can prove that he or she was under duress or that their spouse hid assets at the time the agreement was signed. A judge might void a prenuptial agreement signed just days before the wedding upon a finding that one spouse was pressured into signing to avoid a cancellation of the ceremony. Likewise, an agreement that is demonstrably unfair to one spouse may not survive a challenge in court.
You and your partner should each consult a lawyer to draft and fully review your proposed prenuptial agreement for validity and legal enforceability. This not only makes sure the agreement is fair but also proves that both parties had legal counsel at the time of signing, which would make a judge is less likely to question the agreement in the future.
If you are considering a premarital agreement or are party to one and undergoing a divorce, Clark & Schloss Family Law, P.C. can provide legal advice and representation in court. For a free consultation at our Scottsdale office, call us at 602-789-3497 or contact us online.