Prenuptial Agreements: No longer just for the rich!

According to USA Today, only 3% of couples have a prenuptial agreement and, yet, over 50% of marriages end in divorce.  This disparity has led to a flood of couples at Phoenix court houses, trying to figure out their economic and legal rights after a divorce.  However, many of these issues can be addressed long before the couple is divorced…or even married.

Arizona family law allows a couple to enter into an agreement, prior to marriage, that outlines how property will be divided, which couple will pay alimony, and how any children will be cared for after a divorce.  This proactive approach allows the couple, instead of a judge, to decide their post-divorce fate.  Because Arizona is a community property state, there is specific legislation to address the division of property of a married couple.  However, most individuals like to control the disposition of their own property instead of leaving it up to the state.

Many couples believe that they don’t need a prenuptial agreement because they don’t have any property or assets.  However, a couple with smaller assets may need even more protection!  When a nest-egg or savings is smaller, an individual needs to keep as much of it as possible.

Arizona family law also allows a couple to create or modify an agreement after marriage.  A couple, who is already married, may enter into an agreement that outlines the same provisions as a prenuptial agreement.  Because a couple’s financial situation changes frequently, any existing prenuptial agreements should be reviewed about every five years.

Below are some examples of possible provisions in a prenuptial agreement:

  • Spousal Support
  • Education and Special Needs Trusts for Children
  • Creation of a Will
  • Life Insurance
  • Personal Obligations
  • Choice of Law
  • Religious Upbringing of Children
  • Retirement Benefits
  • Debt Allocation
  • Mediation/Arbitration

So, how do you approach your fiancé or spouse to discuss a prenuptial?

Honesty – We suggest doing it honestly.  Full disclosure is essential to the enforceability of any marital agreement and honesty will help both parties make informed decisions.  By openly discussing any legal or financial issues, a couple can properly anticipate their future.

Fairness – Fairness is an essential cornerstone to every marital agreement.  Therefore, each provision needs to ensure that neither spouse, nor any children are left destitute.  A marital agreement, created before or during marriage, may be more likely to be fair as the parties are still in a romantic relationship.

Representation – A marital agreement receives much deference in Phoenix courts when both parties have been represented by a family law attorney.  Adequate representation provides each party with the requisite knowledge to enter the agreement intelligently.  In addition, a family law attorney will be able to provide expertise in Arizona family law and creative-problem solving for each couple’s unique needs.

Although prenuptial agreements used to have a negative stigma, couples are invariably finding that they are becoming as necessary as a will.  For assistance in securing your future, contact Timothy W. Durkin at 480.779.7972.  Timothy has extensive knowledge of Arizona family law and has created many prenuptial agreements, giving him the practical experience necessary to craft your perfect agreement.

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