Couples across Arizona who are getting married this fall are putting the final touches on their wedding plans. As exciting as this can be, it can also be stressful with a lot of details to tend to.
One detail that couples often overlook at this phase is a prenuptial agreement (PNA). Often, they dismiss the idea of this agreement because they don't think they need one, or they fear that discussing it could cause a big fight. However, before you decide against a PNA, stop and think about the following points.
- Separate property can be worth protecting. If you own a business, real estate holdings, inheritances, or other valuable assets, taking steps to preserve the ongoing profits from that property as you enter a marriage can be a big deal.
- You can avoid unpleasant surprises. If you are not sure of each other's financial situation before heading into a marriage, you could be setting yourselves up for some unfortunate surprises. Open, honest disclosure of each other's finances in a legal document can be important.
- It's about more than property. PNAs don't just protect assets, they can also shield you from another's person debt in a way that normal, community property law does not.
- You can also establish rules for spousal support. If parties are entering a marriage with different levels of wealth, the disadvantaged person may want to address spousal maintenance in a PNA. This can ensure a financial safety net if the marriage unexpectedly ends. Similarly, the wealthier person may feel better knowing there are restrictions (i.e. a "ceiling") on how much he or she will have to pay to an ex-spouse if there is a divorce. Some people even settle for negotiating both a maintenance "floor" and "ceiling." This way, they know a judge may have to decide spousal maintenance at a divorce trial if they cannot agree on an exact figure, but still have the assurance that it will never be less (or more) than the range they agreed to in their PNA.
- PNAs can save a lot of litigation. A PNA offers the comfort of knowing you have resolved hot-button issues before heat of a divorce. And if a divorce does happen, the terms of an enforceable PNA will override many aspects of Arizona community property law that otherwise would have applied.
If a PNA interests you, make sure to draft one with guidance from an attorney who understands what makes a prenuptial agreement enforceable in Arizona.