Should I Get a Prenup? Take Our Quiz
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More couples are seeking legal protection before they walk down the aisle. Unfair stigmas have long been attached. However, it can be a smart move for any couple, regardless of financial status or the stability of their relationship.
What Is a Prenup, and Who Should Consider One?
A prenuptial agreement, more commonly known as a “prenup,” is a contract by two people before they marry. The purpose is to establish each spouse’s financial asset and property rights during a divorce or even after death. These agreements can be used to protect one spouse from the other’s debts and determine how alimony and child support will be paid if the marriage ends.
While prenups are not required by law, they can be helpful for any couple who wants to protect their assets. If one spouse is significantly wealthier than the other, or if one spouse owns a business that could be subject to a significant claim in the event of a divorce, such an agreement can help protect those assets.
What Are Some Common Misconceptions About Prenups?
There are many common misconceptions. Some of the most prevalent include:
“Prenups are only for the wealthy.”
While it’s true that prenups are more common among well-to-do couples, they can be helpful for anyone who wants to protect their assets and plan for the future.
“Prenups are only for second marriages.”
In truth, anyone who is getting married can benefit. While prenups are especially common among those beginning second marriages, they can be used for first marriages or by couples who have been married for many years as well.
“Prenups are unromantic.”
Some couples may feel like signing is the antithesis of romance. However, prenups—like estate planning documents—simply represent a very practical way to protect assets and plan for the future.
“Prenups are usually unenforceable.”
What Does a Prenup Do?
A prenup is a contract. So, both spouses must agree to terms. Prenups can be unbelievably detailed, outlining exactly how each spouse’s assets or debts will be divided in the event of a divorce. They can also be more general, setting out basic principles that will govern the division of assets during a divorce.
Some of the terms that can be included:
- How property will be divided during divorce or after death
- The right to buy, sell, or mortgage property
- How debts will be paid in the event of a divorce or death
- Whether alimony payments will be made
- Preliminary plans for child support payments
- Plans for retirement accounts and other assets
- Anything the couple agrees upon
What Are the Benefits of a Prenup?
There are several pros and cons to a prenup. However, the following benefits are primary reasons:
Prenups define expectations
Each spouse knows exactly what to expect in the event of a divorce or the other spouse’s death. This clarity can help both spouses avoid surprises down the road.
Prenups provide protection from future claims
A prenup can protect one spouse from being taken advantage of by the other during divorce. For example, if one spouse owns a business, it can protect that business from any claims the other spouse might make in the event of a divorce.
Prenups can improve estate planning
A prenup can also help ensure that each spouse’s assets go to the correct heirs after death. For example, blended families can benefit from combining a prenup with an estate plan to clarify each spouse’s wishes for their assets after death.
Prenups can help ward off arguments
Many couples can avoid arguments about each other’s assets at a time when many couples are already under stress due to wedding planning or caring for a new baby.
Can You Get a Prenup After Marriage?
You can get a prenup even after marriage, though at this point, it is referred to as a postnuptial agreement. If you gain assets or debts during the marriage, you want to protect or distribute them fairly in the event of a divorce.
For example, you may want to create a postnuptial agreement. However, postnuptial agreements are not as well-known as prenups, and many couples miss out on their benefits.
When Should I Ask to Get a Prenup?
While creating a prenup will not break the bank, postnuptial agreements may be ideal for couples already struggling with the financial burden of paying for a wedding. Postnuptial agreements can be created at any time.
Both prenups and postnuptial agreements can be a wonderful way to plan regardless of the current state of your relationship. Further, it is important to remember that agreements established at any point in the couple’s relationship are not set in stone. Couples can always renegotiate a prenup later in the marriage. Courts will honor all reasonable terms of a written agreement that was entered into by both spouses willingly and without coercion.
What Requirements Exist to Validate a Prenup in Arizona?
To be valid in Arizona, a prenuptial agreement must meet the following requirements:
Both parties are legally capable of entering an agreement
To become valid, both spouses must have the mental capacity to enter a contract. This means that they are of sound mind and not under the influence of alcohol or drugs while signing the agreement.
Each party must have independent legal advice before signing an agreement
This means that each spouse must have their own lawyer who reviews the agreement and gives them advice.
Before signing, each party must receive a written disclosure
This should disclose all property owned by each party. This disclosure must list all assets and debts, including any that are not in the marital estate.
The agreement is fair and reasonable to both parties
This means that the agreement must not be one-sided, otherwise unfair, or too difficult for either spouse to understand and follow.
The agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties
Arizona requires that a prenuptial agreement must be recorded on paper and signed by both spouses. In addition, the document must be notarized at the time of signing.
It is important to note that if your spouse is pressuring you into signing an agreement without taking the time to have it reviewed by an attorney, this is not a sign that the agreement is valid. Similarly, if you are placing undue pressure on your spouse to get them to sign a prenup, it may later be invalidated by a judge.
What Are Some Steps to Take Before Getting a Prenup?
Before creating any prenuptial agreement, you should take the following steps:
Ensure this is something you both want
This is a crucial step that should not be skipped. Prenups can be a divisive issue, so it’s important to make sure both parties are on the same page before moving forward.
Gather complete financial information
You will need to develop a full understanding of your assets and debts to make an informed decision about whether to create a prenup.
Get legal advice
This is the most important step in the prenup process. If you’re considering a prenup, it’s a good idea to meet with an attorney who can help you weigh the pros and cons.
Take our prenup quiz
If you’re still uncertain regarding the benefits of a prenup, take the quiz at the bottom of the page to learn more and see if a prenup is right for you.
Take your time
What Is the Value of a Prenup Lawyer?
If you are considering creating or signing a prenup, it’s important to secure the services of an attorney who is familiar with this type of agreement. A lawyer who regularly deals with prenups is more likely to spot any red flags that might indicate an agreement is unfair or could be rendered invalid. A prenuptial agreement is a binding legal contract, so it’s important to have a legal professional on your side who can help you get the best possible outcome.
When seeking a prenup lawyer, look for someone who is:
As mentioned, you should look for an attorney who has previously handled these types of agreements. This will ensure you have someone on your side who can help you interpret your prenup and address any issues that may arise.
You should search for a lawyer who will simultaneously make you feel comfortable and look out for your best interests.
Skilled at communications
Your lawyer should be readily available to answer your questions and offer advice throughout the process.
A good lawyer will know where to find the answers to your questions and be able to help you understand the agreement before you and your partner sign it.
Where Can I Find a Prenup Lawyer Near Me?
If you’re searching for a prenup lawyer in Arizona, contact the professionals at The Valley Law Group. Your prenup will be handled in a way that protects your interests.
Creating a prenup can allow you to begin your marriage with the peace of mind that comes with knowing you are fully protected. Actually, creating a prenup is the most responsible thing you can do for one another.
Jonathan Roeder, Co-Founder of The Valley Law Group, is an Arizona native who has dedicated his life and career to the service of others. After graduating salutatorian of his high school class, Jonathan attended beautiful and prestigious Pepperdine University, where he majored in Political Science. During his tenure at Pepperdine University, his passion for helping others grew after securing a clinical position with a residential treatment center for juveniles with substance addictions. Post-graduation, Jonathan returned to Arizona and served as a residential manager for mentally and physically disabled homes.