If you are searching for prenuptial agreement attorneys in Scottsdale, Canterbury Law Group can help! Although marriages do not begin with the anticipation of divorce, it is increasingly common: 50 percent of first marriages, 67 percent of second and 74 percent of third marriages end in divorce. (Source: Forest Institute of Professional Psychology.) When your net worth is at stake, it is critical to be prepared with a prenuptial agreement, commonly referred to as a “prenup.”
No longer for only the wealthy, prenuptial agreements can be smart financial planning tools for all marriages but are especially common in second and third marriages, for business owners and/or when one partner has a large inheritance (received or expected in the future).
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What Is A Prenuptial Agreement?
A Prenuptial Agreement is a written agreement reached by a couple before they get married concerning the individual ownership of their respective assets should the marriage end in divorce.
- Premarital agreements are usually entered between two adults who plan on becoming married.
- Premarital agreements are occasionally referred to as prenuptial agreements and antenuptial agreements.
- Ideally, both the new husband and wife each have their own separately retained lawyer.
- Last minute prenups can backfire, plan to have your agreement signed and mutually negotiated weeks or months in advance of the wedding day to aid its enforceability later should a divorce take place.
Prenuptial agreements are governed in Arizona by the Arizona Uniform Premarital Agreement Act as set forth in Arizona Revised Statutes Sections 25-201 through 25-205. The statutes, in part, provide that such agreements, like a prenuptial agreement, must be in writing. It is vital that both parties disclose in writing their individual assets, incomes and debts as part of the process, or at the very least, encompasses a clause which waives such disclosure requirements.
Not every marrying couple needs a prenuptial agreement. Sometimes, applicable community property laws are relevant with a person’s desires concerning the marriage. As an example, community property laws can portect a person’s pre-marriage personal property to a certain extent without such agreement. However, there are many allegations that can be made in a divorce, which the parties did not have in mind at the time of marriage. A competent divorce attorney in Scottsdale will advise you whether or not a premarital agreement makes sense for your situation to help protect you and your assets for the future.
Prenuptial Agreement Attorneys In Scottsdale
At Canterbury Law Group we prepare prenuptial (pre-marital) and postnuptial (post-marital) agreements that help safeguard and clarify peoples’ income and property interests before, during and after marriage. In addition, our firm also drafts co-habitation and domestic partnership agreements for those who are not married but want to define their individual property and other legal rights and commitments. For better understanding about what roles these invaluable agreements can play, contact one of our Scottsdale prenuptial agreement attorneys at our office in Scottsdale, Arizona.
If you’re considering a prenup in Scottsdale, here are four tips from our legal experts:
- Plan ahead. Begin the prenuptial agreement process six months before your wedding date to ensure that both parties have ample time to review it. Last-minute contracts are harder to enforce and can sometimes be thrown out by a judge later.
- Eliminate your emotions. The emotions of falling in love can alter reality, so be sure to work with trusted advisers on this legally binding agreement. It is an important document and proper time, energy and care should be placed into its creation.
- Make your agreement realistic and legal. The goal is to have a contract that is enforceable and provide each spouse with an understanding of what they will get if the marriage ends.
- Research your state’s law regarding marriage and property. Marriage property laws are different from state to state. Ideally, you have a licensed attorney handle the entire process from start to finish so you can focus on the exciting wedding to come.
If you need prenuptial agreement help in Scottsdale, Arizona, then contact Canterbury Law Group today to schedule a consultation.
What Is The Purpose Of A Prenuptial Agreement?
The goal of a prenup is to reduce the potential future conflict and unnecessary financial burden in the unfortunate event of divorce. By defining what will happen with asset division and spousal support before the marriage, couples have the opportunity to consider the financial and legal ramifications of marriage before walking down the aisle. Prenuptial agreements can also protect one spouse from the other spouse’s existing or future debt, assures asset allocation to previous children from a prior marriage upon either spouse’s death, etc.
Even if you are already married, the courts will also enforce and honor postnuptial agreements, which can materially impact the parties’ rights. Postnuptial agreements, like their prenuptial brethren, can allocate and carve out each spouse’s rights and property in any way that is mutually agreeable to the two spouses even after they have married.
Why Do People Sign Prenuptial Agreements?
Many people sign prenups for a variety of reasons including:
- Keep finances separate
- Protect each other from debt, particularly large school debts
- Provide for children from other previous marriages
- Clearly define property division if divorce occurs
- Clarify responsibilities during marriage
- Estate planning tax efficiencies
What Can Be Included In a Premarital Agreement?
The law demands that a prenuptial agreement be voluntary, in writing and signed by both parties. It also establishes requirements for the content of such agreements and requires complete disclosure of property and financial obligations prior to marriage in order to be enforceable.
In creating your premarital agreement, the law allows couples to address a broad spectrum of issues. The most common concerns addressed in a premarital agreement are:
- Rights regarding the property of one or both parties
- The disposition of property, upon separation, divorce, death or other circumstance or conditions defined by the parties
- Spousal maintenance and spousal support, and whether support will be waived
- Child support may NEVER be waived by a prenup or postnup, such a clause is void against public policy.
Can a Prenuptial Agreement Be Altered After Marriage?
A premarital agreement may be amended or revoked after marriage only by a written agreement signed by both parties involved. Under law, married couples may enter into agreements with each other regarding their marital assets and obligations in the same way and to the same extent as prospective spouses or private parties.
Canterbury Law Group was founded to provide top legal counsel for Family Law cases at the highest levels possible. We are an energetic and unified team of lawyers and paralegals deeply committed to solving our clients’ life changing problems. We handle complex cases throughout the United States with an emphasis on cases in Arizona, California and Nevada.
Types of Premarital Agreements
Pursuant to Arizona law both parties are entitled to enter into a prenuptial agreement regarding their property interests, expenses, income, alimony, determine what happens to their property upon their death, and any other terms that are not excessive, in breach of public policy, or would constitute a crime. However, premarital agreement terms concerning future child support and custody are not enforceable.
Prenuptial agreements will come in varying degrees. Some people simply want to protect the property that they have earned before getting married as a sole and separate property but agree that all income later gained during the marriage is shared by both parties. Other people may want to enter into a more complex premarital agreement whereby their individual incomes earned after they get married remain his or her sole and separate property. Some people just want to agree that no alimony payments will be paid in the case that the marriage ends in divorce.
Post-marital Agreements In Scottsdale
- Post-marital agreements can be entered between two parties who are already married.
- Post-marital agreements are sometimes called postnuptial agreements.
Post-marital agreements (agreements that are entered into after getting married) can customarily address the same matters as prenuptial agreements. The only difference is the timing, postnups are signed after you are already married. When properly written, and procedures are properly followed, postnuptial agreements are typically enforceable. These agreements, nevertheless, are not enforced by the Arizona Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. In accordance to Arizona law, the burden of proof for implementing such agreements is upon the person who wishes to enforce the agreement and is stricter than the burden of proof pertaining to premarital agreements.
Many people, including attorneys disregard post-marital agreements as a potential option to divorce or legal separation. It is general knowledge that many marriages end in divorce are because of financial disagreements and considerations. Some couples can hold their marriage together by splitting their finances, and believe that if they end up getting divorced, they can keep their individual accounts. Nevertheless, simply setting up separate bank accounts will not achieve this. Scottsdale, AZ community property attorneys will tell you that income brought in during the marriage is commonly considered community property regardless of whether you keep separate bank accounts unless you have a premarital or post-marital agreement stating otherwise.
Checklist of Related Issues to Address & Cover In Your Agreement(s)
The following are possible issues you may need to address in a premarital or post-marital agreement. This list is not all-encompassing, but rather addresses many of the significant issues that often come up in marital agreements:
- Premarital assets
- Personal items owned prior to getting married
- Business interests established before getting married
- Business interests established during the marriage
- Income during marriage
- Expenses during marriage
- What happens to property in the event of either parties’ death
- Debts incurred prior to marriage
- Debts incurred after marriage
- Assets acquired during marriage
- Retirement funds and pensions
- Insurance policies
- Spousal maintenance (alimony)
- Inheritance funds and property
Cohabitation and Domestic Partnership Agreements
As cited above, cohabitation agreements (also referred to as domestic partner agreements) can be put together when people reside together or have the intention to reside together. These agreements may relate to heterosexual couples, same-sex couples, platonic friends or family members. Such agreements, if they are correctly and properly written and if procedures are followed, are in most cases, enforceable. Cohabitation and Domestic Partner agreements can address the same issues as premarital and post-marital arrangements as outlined above. As an example, couples may want to own a home together equally or in distinct percentages. Cohabitation agreements usually address how their expenses are allocated. These will also address what will happen in the untimely event of a parties’ death. Not unlike marriages, some domestic partner relationships will terminate over time. Should you plan on residing together for the rest of your lives, it is a good idea to address how the financial concerns are going to be dealt with. These agreements may save much heartache and expenses in the future.
On a slightly related note, if a same-sex couple wants to have a child where only one of them is the biological parent, or one intends to adopt a child and is not going to be a two-party adoption, it is crucial to consult with a knowledgeable and experienced Scottsdale family law attorney.
Prenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements In Scottsdale
It is recommended to always acquire legal advice from a lawyer knowledgeable and experienced in drafting up premarital or post-marital agreements before executing the agreement. Despite the fact that legal counsel is not “required” by Arizona law, there is a bigger risk that a pre-marital or post-marital agreement will be “thrown out” of court or lead to litigation if the agreement is not properly drafted and/or if the parties do not have separate, independent legal counsel.
Premarital and post-marital agreements acquired from form stores or someone who is not an attorney can be poorly drafted and can very problematic. Actually, some agreements by attorneys are poorly drafted and can lead to litigation and significant attorneys fees. As an example, an agreement may state that a parties’ future income is solely his or hers and separate property, but then are unsuccessful in addressing how joint expenses are to be divided. Some agreements have contradictory terms that could give rise to the agreement being only somewhat enforceable or may lead to the agreement being held as generally unenforceable.
Consulting with a talented Scottsdale prenuptial agreement lawyer or family law attorney who is knowledgeable and experienced in drafting and litigating premarital agreements will save you a great deal of grief and expense in the future. Contact Canterbury Law Group today.