Monday, June 17, 2013

What is a Pre-Nuptial Agreement, What Makes it Enforceable and When is One Appropriate?

By Jessica M. Cotter, Esq.

According to Black’s Law Dictionary a Pre-Nuptial Agreement is an agreement made between two people that are planning to marry and which defines each parties rights when it comes to real property, bank accounts, investment accounts, retirement and pension accounts, and debts. It may also include terms relating to Spousal Maintenance (alimony) and payment for the children’s college education.

In the state of Arizona in order to have a valid Pre-Nuptial Agreement the following must be true:

It must be in writing;
It must be signed by both parties;
It is effective once the parties are married;
The agreement was entered into voluntarily;
That there was full disclosure of any and all debts and assets; and
If there is no disclosure of property that this was done voluntarily,
and with the knowledge of both parties.

The determination whether or not you need a Pre-Nuptial Agreement is a personal decision. Some of the factors to consider are:

How many times has the person been married;
Is there an significant age difference between the parties;
Does one of the parties have a significant amount of debt ;
Has either party filed bankruptcy more than one time in the past;
Does one party have more assets than the other;
If you own your own company; and
Does either party have an issue with drugs or alcohol.

The above list is not exhaustive, and includes just some of the reasons you may decide to protect yourself with a Pre-Nuptial Agreement.  At our firm we assist people in the preparation and review of Pre-Nuptial Agreements, so meet with us or an experienced family law attorney in your area to seek legal advice about whether or not a pre-nuptial agreement may be in your best interest.

The Law Firm of Jessica M. Cotter, P.L.L.C.

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