Prenuptial agreements in Arizona can protect financial accounts, assets and separate business during a divorce, but are they necessary for everyone? Read on…
We are in the full swing of the summer wedding season! With all that the engaged couple has to plan and prepare for with their wedding, honeymoon and new life, they might overlook an essential step – their prenuptial agreement. It may not be the most romantic aspect of wedding preparation, in fact, from the experience in our firm, it is distasteful to look at divorce when you are planning your marriage. Yet you may be in a marriage where the prenuptial agreement will give your relationship the boundaries and shore up those questions that would otherwise loom around like unfriendly ghosts.
Who needs a prenuptial agreement?
Most divorcing spouses would have benefited from a prenuptial agreement, if they have one that was enforceable and had been properly negotiated between the spouses prior to marriage. In fact, no asset or income or relationship requirement is required to benefit by having a prenuptial agreement. Yet there are folks who bring such a large estate or business to the marriage, that they really need to address this well in advance of their marriage to give plenty of time for both spouses to rely and utilize on knowledgeable family law attorneys.
Though prenuptial agreements have bad reputation for being distasteful and even causing the couple to fight and sometime break up, these documents are not meant to be contentious nor represent an expectation that the marriage will fail. In fact, the dissolution of a marriage is not the only time that these agreements can be helpful. Some people use prenuptial agreement to lay out the expectations of their coming marital relationship to follow when they officially get married.
What can a prenuptial agreement do?
The main purpose that most people associate with a prenuptial agreement is to protect financial accounts, assets or perhaps a separate business during a divorce. While this is certainly something that can be accomplished with a valid and effective prenuptial agreement, it is far from the only thing that these contracts can be used for. They can also outline far in advance what child support and spousal maintenance will be and also how joint assets will be managed if divorce ensues.
Marriage is a little messy and challenging from time to time. Arguments and disagreements tend to happen anytime people share living spaces and spend a significant amount of time together. In an attempt to avoid squabbling over how bills will be divided, couples have found that including how their day-to-day financial expenses and other related financial obligations in their prenuptial agreement can help spare them from fights and resentment in the future.
Prenuptial agreements are not the complete solution when it comes to dictating the terms of your marriage or your divorce because they have their limitations. For example, prenuptial agreements cannot include a provision that neither spouse will seek child support, nor can they determine child custody arrangements. Additionally, they cannot falsify or hide assets in an attempt to protect them. On the rare occasion that a marriage is nullified or found invalid, then of course, the prenuptial agreement would also be invalid because it is contingent upon the existence of the marriage.
Can a prenuptial agreement be contested?
Prenuptial agreements in Arizona must meet certain criteria to be considered valid and enforceable. Prenuptial agreements must be:
- In writing;
- Signed voluntarily by both parties; and
- Signed after appropriate disclosures were made.
These agreements may be easily contested if any of these three terms are not met. However, many times the lines are less clear, and a spouse is left wondering whether or not they can challenge the terms of the contract. They must be done earlier enough that one spouse did not feel pressured to sign the contract to avoid “saving face” after the invitations were mailed out.
So if you were rushed into signing right before the wedding, or if your agreement contains terms that are egregiously one-sided then it can be found invalid. So prenuptial agreement that are overreaching, unconscionable, or involve coercion may be able to be challenged and held invalid by the court.
At McMurdie Law & Mediation, a Scottsdale family law practice, our goal is to help you create a fair and healthy foundation for your lives. Contact McMurdie Law & Mediation at 480-777-5500 today for a no-cost initial consultation and prenup evaluation.