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Prenuptial Agreements

I recently got engaged. Should I get a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial, or premarital, agreement is an agreement between a couple contemplating marriage. Prenuptial agreements can cover a wide range of issues, such as spousal maintenance, child support and property division. These agreements are binding and will override state family and probate law in the event of death or divorce, unless the court finds the agreement to be invalid. Courts may decline to enforce a premarital agreement if, for example, one spouse did not execute the agreement voluntarily, or if the agreement was extremely one-sided and one spouse was not provided fair and reasonable disclosure of the property and financial obligations of the other spouse.

While prenuptial agreement may not be appropriate for everyone, some couples may prefer to address these issues before marriage, so they know how the issues will be decided in the event of death or divorce. Below are some examples of circumstances where signing a prenuptial agreement could be beneficial:

  • One spouse’s income is significantly higher than the other spouse’s income, and the higher-income spouse wants to limit the amount of spousal maintenance the other spouse can receive. Alternatively, if one spouse supports the family while the other spouse pursues a profitable career, the spouse who stayed home could ensure compensation for his or her contribution to the marriage.

  • One spouse, who has significantly more assets or debts than the other spouse, wants to prevent the other spouse from receiving these assets or from being held responsible for the debt.

  • One spouse owns a business or is a part-owner of a business and wants to prevent the other spouse from receiving interest in the business.

  • At least one spouse has children from a previous marriage and wants to protect their inheritance rights.

On the other hand, by entering into a prenuptial agreement, you could waive rights to which you would otherwise be entitled under Arizona law. It is important to consult with an experienced family law attorney before entering into a prenuptial agreement.