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Prenuptial and Postmarital Arrangements in Arizona

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Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are marital arrangements that act as an amendment to a marital contract. They were once stigmatized as an agreement only designed for wealthier individuals to protect their assets, and while this is true, they are becoming increasingly popular amongst married couples of all economic statuses. In order to help destigmatize these agreements, we want to provide you with the benefits of such agreements so that you can determine which, if any, are right for you.

Marriage is a wonderful milestone for a couple who wishes to move forward in their loving relationship. Couples getting married are creating a contractual agreement to share not only their love but every aspect of their lives. However, many couples are so overwhelmed with happiness that they may overlook very important details about what happens after marriage from a legal standpoint. While no couple enters a marriage with the intention of separating, divorces do occur. Without the right agreements in place, divorce can be a long, complicated, and emotionally taxing process filled with anger and resentment.


Premarital Agreement in AZ

Premarital arrangements are better known as prenuptial agreements (prenups). A prenuptial agreement is a contract between two individuals who will be married and outlines the terms of what happens in the event the marriage dissolves in a divorce. These agreements cannot be designed to provide an inequity in a divorce settlement but rather should be designed to ensure both spouses come away with a fair outcome.

The Purpose of a Prenup

While defining what happens in the event of a divorce, a prenuptial agreement can also help a couple approach their marriage more smoothly.

Prenups do not settle all matters of the marriage, but under Arizona law, they can be put in place to set parameters regarding the following:

  • Outlining the parameters of each spouse’s claim to separate or community property regardless of when or in what ways it was acquired
  • Defining the rights to manage and control property
  • Defining how property will be divided in the event of divorce, death of a spouse, or other significant events
  • Setting limitations or expirations of spousal support
  • Establishing the rights of ownership of a death benefit in relation to a life insurance policy

In addition to these terms, prenuptial agreements can set the responsibilities and roles for each spouse in regard to household duties, financial duties, and how any children brought into the marriage will be raised. It is important to note that the court must still approve any decisions regarding child custody or child support.

Why People Choose a Prenup

While these benefits are foundational for any relationship, prenuptial agreements target certain types of individuals and relationships.

Common scenarios during which one may wish to consider a prenuptial agreement include the following:

  • If one spouse enters the relationship with a significant difference in personal wealth
  • If either spouse owns a business independently of the other spouse prior to the marriage
  • If one spouse anticipates entering a lucrative career
  • If there is a potential for one spouse to have significant returns on stocks or an inheritance in the future
  • If one spouse has children from a previous relationship or elderly grandparents that require more than average levels of care

These scenarios highlight important elements of a prenup that ensure it can offer protection to each of the individuals in the relationship. When deciding if a prenup is right for you and your soon-to-be spouse, weigh the pros and cons to ensure you understand the big picture of what they offer.

Pros of a Prenuptial Agreement

The pros of a prenuptial agreement are often hidden by the misconceptions that surround them. For most individuals, the only experience they have with prenuptial agreements involves hearing about their beneficial impact on celebrities and other influential individuals. The reality is that prenups offer protections for the spouse who earns less income as well. This can be in the form of spousal support agreements, determining residency needs during or after a divorce, and equalization payments. Remember that divorce and prenuptial agreements are designed to create an agreeable outcome for both parties in the event of separation.

Prenups help define both spouses’ roles and responsibilities within the marriage. Some couples use this as an opportunity to define what bank accounts will be utilized, such as a joint account, or how much each spouse will contribute to joint expenses monthly.

Part of establishing a prenup is to predict what the future may look like or the challenges a couple could face. This is the same when discussing the details of a prenup in that it looks to predict future income or assets. If a spouse anticipates high income or retirement benefits, for example, a prenup can provide protection against unfair distribution.

Prenups can also predetermine how assets are distributed to any children in the event of the death or remarriage of either spouse. A prenup helps to ensure the future of the child by predetermining where they may live for the sake of the child’s best interests or how assets for the child will be affected by the addition of step-siblings.

Working through the details of a prenup can help a couple not only establish a healthy framework for the many important legal components of marriage but also lay the groundwork for communication when it comes to the tough conversations many marriages face.


Cons of a Prenuptial Agreement

Of course, there are a few cons to consider when determining if a prenup is right for you prior to your marriage. One of the most significant cons of a prenup is simply having the uncomfortable conversations necessary to outline the details of the prenup. Death, divorce, and finances can be a triple threat when it comes to relationship conversations. However, if you and your spouse are able to work through the details, you will come out stronger and with better communication.

In some rare cases, unfair or poorly constructed prenups may be thrown out in court. If a prenup is not properly validated because it includes provisions that are considered unconscionable, it will not be enforceable in court. That means that in the event of a divorce, the settlement of the divorce will occur according to established divorce laws in Arizona. This highlights the importance of seeking help from a qualified marital agreement attorney to avoid the invalidation of your prenup.

Finally, prenuptial agreements are often stigmatized, as people think they are signs of distrust in a relationship. However, the stigma from generations ago is lessening as prenups become increasingly more popular, accepted, and encouraged.

Suggested Reading: Do I Need a Prenuptial Agreement Quiz

Postnuptial Agreement in AZ

Postnuptial agreements are less common than their prenuptial counterpart, but they are exactly as they sound – an agreement between spouses regarding the terms of their marriage and/or divorce that takes place after the marriage occurs. When a couple marries, assets gained become marital assets and, therefore, are not protected from division under Arizona law. However, a postnuptial agreement seeks to create a plan for assets and other elements of the relationship in the event of death or dissolution of the marriage.

The Purpose of a Postnuptial Agreement

Postnuptial agreements are used for the same purpose as prenuptial agreements. However, they are used more often in specific circumstances that arise after marriage. For example, postnuptial agreements are often used to settle financial disagreements within a marriage. Because financial disputes are one of the leading causes of divorce, these agreements help to save marriages rather than sow distrust.

While financial agreements are one of the top priorities in postmarital contracts for couples, they can also outline roles and responsibilities similar to a prenuptial contract for how the home should run, including how the couple will pay bills, raise children, and more. These agreements will not solve every matter between a couple, but they can significantly reduce the animosity that comes with unresolved conflict.


Why People Choose a Postnuptial Agreement

Couples utilize postnuptial agreements for a variety of reasons.

Most commonly, they are used to address common disputes within marriages, such as:

  • Custody and child support – Family dynamics change throughout a marriage, and that includes the impact on children in the marriage. Postnuptial agreements can help establish the parameters for what childcare looks like post-divorce, including who the child will live with, what financial support looks like, and more – but remember that a Family Court judge must approve the arrangements before a divorce decree becomes complete.
  • Debt consolidation – Debt changes during a marriage, and that may mean consolidating debts in order to pay them off more quickly. For couples who wish to combine debt, a postnuptial agreement can help clarify who is responsible for certain portions of the debt.
  • Taxes – In the event of a divorce, the taxes you pay with your spouse will change. A postnuptial agreement can help decide how tax disputes will be settled after a divorce.
  • Disagreements – Postnuptial agreements can eliminate disagreements about what happens to finances and property in the event of a divorce, as well as disagreements suffered from previously unsettled issues. Communicating the wants and needs of each party will help establish clear boundaries that lead to amicable resolutions during difficult decisions.
  • Protections from abusive spouses – If one spouse has been violent or abusive in the past, a postnuptial agreement can establish the ground rules for moving forward and the consequences if the abusive spouse further perpetuates the violence.

Pros of a Postnuptial Agreement in AZ

Postnuptial agreements are complex documents that require proper consideration. To do so, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons to decide if this type of agreement is right for you and your spouse.

One of the most significant pros of a postnuptial agreement is that it provides adequate time to truly assess family financials. Once a couple is married, the pressure of the wedding date is off, the day-to-day realities of finances become more clear, and they can focus on the conversations surrounding their shared finances.

Another pro of postnuptial agreements is that as the couple grows in their marriage, so does their maturity. After marriage, a couple may be in a better place to have healthy and important conversations about aspects of their marriage included in a postnuptial agreement. As time passes, couples will also have a better sense of how their careers, investments, or other decisions will play out in order to develop a better understanding of what needs to be defined by the agreement.

Cons of a Postnuptial Agreement

There are more misconceptions than true negatives to a postnuptial agreement. The most significant con to writing a postnuptial agreement is that a stereotype that assumes the spouses are planning a divorce. For most spouses, this is not the case.

Another misconception is that these agreements highlight the inadequacies of one partner over the other. While the couple has a better understanding of each other and their marital situation as they grow, a breadwinning spouse may thus be less willing to create a postnuptial agreement because of the fear of losing things they gained due to the success of their career. As mentioned, however, postnuptials can be created to protect both spouses.

Because postnuptial agreements are created after the marriage, they may be more highly scrutinized in court in the event of a divorce. Certain elements of the agreement may be modified or changed by a court if the judge feels the agreement is unfair to either party.

Suggested Reading: AZ Postnuptial Agreement FAQs

Benefit of Arizona Pre/Postnuptial Agreements

The stigma surrounding pre- and postnuptial agreements continues to decline as more and more couples utilize these important strategies to protect themselves. This is partly due to the relationship benefits couples find by working through the agreement process.

Some of the benefits couples experience include:

  • Improving communication skills by working through tough conversations
  • Building trust with transparency regarding the current financial state of each partner
  • Minimizing the complications of divorce or separation in the event either occurs
  • Protecting the financial security of both parties
  • Helping to minimize the stress on children, both emotionally and financially

Create a Marital Agreement with the Help of a Family Law Attorney in Arizona

While both pre and postnuptial agreements offer many benefits to couples, neither is a one-size-fits-all standard for every marriage. It is important to decide which, if any, is right for you and your spouse. Whether you need help determining if an agreement is right for you or simply wish to create a pre or postnuptial agreement that is fair to both spouses and will hold up in court, you should contact an Arizona marital agreement attorney.


At The Valley Law Group, our knowledgeable and experienced marital agreement attorneys in AZ can help you find the answers you need to all your marital agreement questions. We have amassed decades of experience in family court and work diligently with our clients to provide a customized and personal agreement that not only meets your needs but will withstand the validation process.

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