Protecting Assets in the Event of a Divorce
Considering that many people are waiting to get married or getting married for a second (or third or fourth) time, there may be assets that someone has that s/he wants to protect in the event of a divorce. I doubt that most enter into a marriage thinking it will not last. Applying logic and the odds, it is a good idea to define in advance, when the couple is happy and in love, how assets and liabilities will be handled both during the marriage and in the event of a dissolution.
Arizona is a Community Property State
In the absence of a premarital or post-nuptial agreement, community property law applies in Arizona, which generally provides all assets accumulated during the marriage are presumed to be for the benefit of the community consisting of the husband and wife. Arizona Revised Statute 25-201, et seq. are the laws that allow couples to abrogate or limit the applicability of community property law and define how income, assets and debts will be paid. Not all couples want to eliminate community property law and instead want to set pre-defined limits about spousal maintenance, such as whether any will be paid and if so the amount, and division of assets and liabilities. This is permissible as well, provided that pre-marital or post-nuptial agreements regarding spousal maintenance do not result in one party needing to utilize state assistance.
Rules for a Pre- or Post-Nuptial Agreement
There are fairly straightforward rules for a pre- or post-nuptial agreement to be valid. The parties must be entering into the agreement freely and voluntarily and without any undo threats or coercion. Timing of the agreement may be considered, but is not necessarily going to invalidate an agreement. The agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties. If one party has an attorney, then both parties should have attorneys, and one attorney cannot represent both people. For some reason there is a common misconception that one attorney is able to represent both. Despite the relationship status at the time an agreement is entered, the parties have differing interests and it is a conflict of interest for one attorney to represent both.
In addition to those requirements listed above, each party must make a fair and reasonable disclosure to the other of all known assets and liabilities. The agreement must not be unconscionable at the time that it was entered, meaning that it is to be fair and equitable and not punish one party or completely deprive one party of assets and liabilities.
I mentioned post-nuptial agreements earlier in this article. There is not a lot of law in Arizona concerning the validity of post-nuptial agreements. Generally, attorneys follow the same requirements for a pre-marital agreement, but there is no guarantee that a post-nuptial agreement will be valid at this time.
Family Law, Divorce and Same-Sex Legal Matters
If you are considering a pre- or post-nuptial agreement, it is important to talk with an experienced family law attorney. At Duenas Eden Law, PLC, we regularly assist clients with such issues. The attorneys of Duenas Eden Law we are trusted and experienced lawyers focusing on family law including; pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements, divorce, child custody cases, child support, spousal support, same-sex legal issues other family law matters. We are family law lawyers servicing Laveen, Ahwatukee, Tempe, Chandler, Mesa and Gilbert. Call today: (480) 285-1735.
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