All Phoenix couples considering marriage should think about whether a prenuptial agreement is right for them. Most people do not want to think about divorce when they are getting married, and discussions about prenuptial agreements can evoke feelings of anxiety or anger. However, there are many benefits to having a prenuptial agreement. Once you broach the topic, the process of drafting a prenuptial agreement can create trust and financial openness in your partnership.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement (also known as a premarital agreement or prenup) is an agreement made before marriage by prospective spouses that sets forth each party’s responsibilities during marriage and in the event of divorce. In Phoenix, it commonly includes provisions related to the division of property at divorce, spousal support, and the distribution of property at death.
Arizona is a community property state. In the absence of a prenuptial agreement, property and debts acquired during the marriage are considered community property and split equally in the event of a divorce. A prenuptial agreement can characterize what would have otherwise been community property as separate property. Additionally, spouses can alter spousal maintenance (alimony) laws by waiving them completely or creating their own unique calculations.
Prenuptial agreements should work to benefit both spouses. It helps create certainty going into marriage and eliminates or reduces costly and stressful litigation in the event of divorce.
What is Required for a Valid Prenuptial Agreement in Phoenix?
A prenuptial agreement can be challenged in court if it is not executed correctly. Arizona law dictates what is required for a valid prenuptial agreement in Phoenix.
- The agreement must be in writing.
- The agreement must be signed by both you and your spouse.
- The agreement must be executed voluntarily. You should not demand that your future spouse sign the prenup a few hours or even days before the wedding. It is best practice for both you and your spouse to have independent legal counsel. The attorneys should be present at the signing of the document so that they can confirm the agreement was entered into voluntarily.
- There must be full and fair disclosure of all assets and liabilities. Each party must fully understand what they are agreeing to. However, a spouse can expressly and voluntarily waive the disclosure requirement.
It is important to work with an experienced Phoenix attorney to ensure that your prenuptial agreement is a valid contract.
What Can a Phoenix Prenuptial Agreement Not Address?
Prenuptial agreements are flexible and can be adapted to fit your needs, but there are topics that a Phoenix prenuptial agreement cannot include.
A prenuptial agreement cannot address child custody or child support. These issues are decided at the time of divorce or separation and cannot be agreed upon ahead of time. Decisions regarding the children are entirely based on the children’s best interests at the time of the separation.
Secondly, a prenuptial agreement cannot include provisions that are against public policy. For example, it cannot require a spouse to do something criminal, and it cannot leave one party destitute.
Who Should Get a Prenuptial Agreement in Phoenix?
Entering into prenuptial agreements is becoming more and more popular in Phoenix. Every couple should consider whether making a prenup is right for them. In certain circumstances, having a prenuptial agreement in place is particularly prudent.
- One spouse has substantially more wealth or debt. If you are entering the marriage with considerable assets or liabilities, you can ensure that it will not be split equally in a potential divorce case.
- One spouse owns a business. A prenuptial agreement can protect your business by keeping the businesses’ appreciation in value as separate property. Divorce should not threaten the survival of your business.
- One spouse has the potential to earn a lot in the future. Even if the parties are not entering the marriage with substantial wealth if they are about to begin a lucrative career or expect a large inheritance, a prenuptial agreement should be considered.
- There are children from previous marriages. A prenuptial agreement can protect the property that you want to pass down to your children from outside your marriage.
Your Phoenix Estate Planning Attorney
If you have questions about prenuptial agreements, you should contact Nicole Pavlik Law Firm. Nicole Pavlik has years of experience helping Phoenix couples draft prenuptial agreements as a part of their overall estate plan. She can help you decide if a prenuptial agreement is right for you and your partner. Call Nicole Pavlik Law Firm today at 602-635-6176 for a free consultation.