As a family law attorney, primarily involved in complex and high end divorces, it is refreshing to occasionally deal with the potential problems on the front end, when everybody is getting along fine, rather than at the back end when everybody is at everybody else’s throats. Negotiating a Prenuptial Agreement or Antenuptial Agreement and getting everything in writing before a marriage, allows the parties to take care of potential issues in an amicable and friendly fashion, and certainly costs much less than a contested divorce.
Arizona statute provides a legal framework to be used in the event of a divorce, including laws for spousal support or alimony and for the division of assets and debts acquired during the marriage. Without a prenuptial agreement, Arizona law is applied. With a prenuptial agreement, the parties contractually agree that rather than applying Arizona law for general divorces, the specific contract between the parties will apply.
Not everyone needs a prenuptial agreement. Arizona statutory law provides a framework that for traditional marriages (two young people with little or no assets and no other children from prior to the marriage) is usually fair and equitable, and without a prenuptial agreement, Arizona law is applied. There are some risks, as the law can change at any time, whereas a prenuptial agreement can lock in a specific outcome or resolution. Marriages in which either or both parties have other children from prior to the marriage, and marriages in which one or both parties have significant assets, however, may involve more detailed issues which make Arizona’s general laws unfair or inequitable or potentially harmful to one or both parties.
Many people experience sticker shock at the cost of a good prenuptial agreement, as it can cost several thousand dollars. In order to make sure the prenuptial agreement is enforced and upheld by the court in case it is eventually needed, it is important that a prenuptial agreement has been prepared and negotiated with both parties on equal footing, and that neither party was forced into the agreement at the last minute or forced to sign the agreement without a full understanding of the legal significance of entering into such an agreement.
If you or anyone close to you is considering a marriage, and there are issues which may require the use of a prenuptial agreement for protection and to ensure fairness and equity, please call us today.