Getting married can be one of the happiest times in a person’s life. However, with new arrangements come many things that need to be considered and planned for, such as where you will live together, whether or not you will have children, and how day-to-day living arrangements will look.
On top of these more short-term considerations comes the need for a contingency plan in the case that the marriage does not last. While these discussions may be uncomfortable at such a time of union, they can also be critical to ensure the security and safety of both parties involved.
Marital Agreement Guide
Marital agreements are a critical way to make sure that you and your partner-to-be have discussed and created financial arrangements at the time of marriage so that separation, if necessary, will be pain-free. The Valley Law Group has created this guide so that you can learn about marital agreements and make informed decisions when it comes to marital planning.
This guide includes key definitions for marital agreements, information about the two major kinds of marital agreements, other critical information that you need to know when it comes to planning, and common FAQs.
What Is a Marital Agreement in Arizona?
A marital agreement is a contract that is legally binding and is agreed upon between the two parties who are getting married. In most cases, marital agreements are created before marriage, but couples in Arizona can also create them during the marriage. All told, a marital agreement is essentially a document that lays out the details for dividing marital property, protecting the separate property of each party involved, and more. Essentially, a marital agreement can help you make decisions now for the future.
A marital agreement helps distinguish marital property belonging to both parties in a marriage from individual property. This is important in the case of divorce since Arizona is a community property state. This means that all property acquired during the marriage is divided equally between the parties unless a valid marital agreement states otherwise.
Planning for Marital Agreements in Arizona: Understanding The Two Types
A marital agreement helps both parties in a marriage protect their assets before, during, and after their marriage. It can also be a tool to set financial goals together and define marital values. As such, there are two major kinds of marital agreements: prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.
Arizona Prenuptial Agreements
Arizona prenuptial agreements are a kind of marital agreement that is decided on and notarized before the marriage becomes legal. Identifying which property is individual property before the marriage goes into effect can be an important way to determine which assets belong to whom should the marriage end.
Anything that you decide to include in the prenuptial agreement as your property, such as money in a trust, inheritances, or your business, will be enforced by the law as yours in the event of separation. It’s important to note, however, that prenups must be validated and can be challenged. This is why it’s critical to make sure the prenuptial agreement is executed properly and includes all key details.
Arizona Postnuptial Agreements
A postnuptial agreement, or postmarital agreement, is another kind of marital agreement very similar to a prenuptial agreement. It is a legal contract that helps delineate marital property from separate property, which is useful for asset protection in the event of divorce. The most significant difference between the two is when they are created.
A postnuptial agreement is created after the marriage has happened. These agreements are often established between a married couple when they choose to make a significant financial decision or change together, such as starting a business or purchasing a significant amount of property. Such agreements can help married couples determine ownership and where responsibility lies in a complex financial situation, especially if divorce occurs.
Postnuptial agreements are also a useful tool for married couples to outline financial goals and strategies, options for reducing debts, and any other issues that are related to assets within the marriage. Postnuptial agreements include content similar to prenuptial agreements, such as spousal support and property division.
Marital Agreement Resources in AZ
When you are working toward marital agreement planning, it’s important to ensure that you are equipped with the right tools and resources in order to inform yourself about the legal aspects and carry out the process efficiently and correctly.
Elements Included in an Arizona Marital Agreement
A prenuptial agreement should include every financial aspect regarding marriage and individual property. Details about all assets and property that each individual party owns at the beginning of the marriage should be included in this document.
Some of the particulars that Arizona married couples include in their prenups include the following:
- Spousal Support – One party in the marriage can request spousal support or alimony from the other party and receive these payments should the marriage end. A spouse can also waive spousal support in the event of a divorce.
- Premarital Asset Protection – This is a clause in a prenup that states that any privately owned property that was brought into the marriage and not accumulated together is not marital property and will, therefore, not be subject to division in the case of divorce.
- Marital Property Considerations – This clause of a prenup covers what will happen to certain assets that are part of the marital property in the case of the death of one of the spouses. It flags certain parts of the marital property that should not be automatically transferred from one party to the other after such a death.
- Any Outstanding Debts – If one spouse holds significant debts coming into the marriage, these can be listed so that in the case of death or divorce, the debts will not be transferred or shared by the other party.
- Business Ownership – If either party is an owner of one or more businesses, it is important to detail ownership information and whether the business assets should be split in the case of divorce. Business division can be complex, as the other party may contribute toward returns by working for the business, even if they were not the owner coming into the marriage.
- Degrees, Professional Certificates, and Licenses – If one party plans to obtain a degree, certificate, or professional license, it may be important to specify what should occur during a divorce, especially if the other spouse pays for the process. Otherwise, it may be considered an intangible asset subject to division in the event of divorce.
- Retirement and Investment Accounts – There are provisions and clauses that can be made in the prenuptial agreement that detail who is the owner of certain retirement accounts or investment accounts. There should also be details about how these assets will be split in the case that assets are earned in those accounts during the marriage.
The items listed above are just some of the financial considerations that are covered in a prenuptial agreement. An experienced family lawyer can ensure that nothing is forgotten from your prenup and that the procedure is carried out properly so the legal document is valid. A well-done prenup can help couples avoid pain and confusion in the event of separation.
Requirements for an Arizona Marital Agreement
While the Arizona state government does not provide much guidance on what should be included in prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, they do provide the means necessary to enforce such legal documents. In order to be enforceable, the documents must meet certain requirements.
Under Arizona law, the legal requirements for prenuptial agreements include:
- The agreement must be written in full.
- The agreement must be signed and notarized at least three days before the marriage but will not become valid until the marriage occurs.
- Both parties must willingly review and sign the agreement.
- The agreement must include reasonable disclosures for both private and marital property and must be deemed fair to both parties.
- The agreement must not intrude upon either party’s marital rights and cannot include child custody or child support decisions.
A Trustworthy Arizona Family Lawyer
A family lawyer who is deeply experienced in drafting and executing marital agreements in the state of Arizona can be the best possible resource for couples interested in planning for their marital assets in this way. A family lawyer can help couples ensure that all relevant financial considerations are included in the contract and that the procedure for creating a valid document is carried out correctly.
A family lawyer from The Valley Law Group can help newlyweds and couples at any stage of marriage carry out the planning they need to feel secure and safe in their marriage. Perhaps just as importantly, consulting with an attorney can help couples understand where their ownership and responsibilities lie. In the case of separation, a valid marital agreement and guidance from a family law attorney can help couples divorce without dispute and confusion and keep their assets protected.
Marital Agreement FAQs
One of the most valuable resources for couples looking to create marital agreements is the many questions asked by others in the same situation. Here are the answers to many common questions asked by couples pursuing marital agreements.
Work With The Valley Law Group to Meet Your Marital Agreement Planning Needs
Marital agreements help couples establish boundaries when it comes to ownership and responsibility and can ensure both parties feel safe and secure in their marriage. Should a divorce occur, marital agreements can make the process easier for both spouses. The Valley Law Group has years of experience helping couples come to agreements that minimize conflict before, during, and after the marriage.
Our skilled family lawyers can provide advice regarding the marital agreement clauses that are right for your marriage and help you execute the document in a way that is fair and beneficial for both you and your partner. Input from our attorneys can also ensure your marital agreement is valid, eliminating headaches and confusion down the line.