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Do I Need a Prenuptial Agreement in Arizona?

 

 

As the best family law lawyers in Gilbert AZ we often get asked, “do I need a prenuptial agreement?” I have a lot of people who come to me and ask me about prenuptial agreements. Well, as you may know, in Arizona we are a community property state, and so that means property that you acquire during the marriage will be subject to Arizona community property laws. So to counter this, sometimes people come to me and they say: “hey we’re getting married. We want to get a prenuptial agreement.” Well, let me tell you a story about client of mine, Emily, who came to me about a month before her wedding and she and Tom were going to get married. And Tom had been divorced before so he was a little gun shy about getting married again because he knew how the Arizona property laws could work, and he wanted to avoid a situation in which there was going to be an ugly divorce should he and Emily get divorced. Well, Emily came to me and said: “hey, I’m getting married in about a month and Tom and his lawyer had drafted up this prenuptial agreement and I need an attorney to look at this and help me understand my rights.”

I’m glad that she came to me, but also it’s kind of an interesting situation, because when somebody comes to you with a prenuptial agreement, the first thing that anybody thinks is the attorney’s gonna say well of course don’t sign this. Well, the interesting thing is: Emily wanted the prenuptial agreement as well as Tom, but she wanted to understand how it would work and what options were there. So Emily and I kind of talked about, “Alright, well what is it that you and tom really want to accomplish here?” Because I don’t think Tom wanted to take advantage of her and I don’t think Emily wanted to be a “gold digger”, so to speak, and just take all of Tom’s money, but they both wanted to create their future together in a way that made sense for both of them financially. Emily was self sufficient. Tom was self sufficient and actually did really well for himself, and so Emily and I talked and we talked about the different situations that could come up. If Emily and Tom decided to have kids, what would they do? Would she stay home with the kids? Would she go back to work and continue to further her career? What would they do with their retirement savings? How would they work toward their future? What would they do with the property? Because Tom owned a house and Emily would be moving into that house, well would they put that house in both names?

The attorney who had prepared the prenuptial agreement for Tom knew that they wanted to do things and had certainly drafted it in Tom’s favor. Because a few years back the Arizona court of appeals struck down a case in which there was a prenuptial agreement because both parties did not have different attorneys, it’s common practice now for both husband and wife to have different attorneys to review these things. Tom’s attorney knew that and Tom’s attorney had mentioned to Tom, “Yeah, you should have Emily go and seek out counsel.” And she did. Well I came at this and looked at it as like- I’m not wanting to blow up these guys’ marriage. They love each other, they wanna get married and they don’t really want to do evil to each other, but it’s important that Emily understand what she wants, as well as Tom understand what he wanted. And so sitting down with Emily, we kind of looked through different scenarios and I kind of played a lot of hypotheticals out: “Well. what if you get married and stay home with kids and then he’s relying on you, would you need spousal maintenance at that point? What about retirement savings? How are you guys going to pay for your house when you’ve got money and he’s got money, but he’s got a lot more money? What are you gonna do with how you pay for the house and making sure that you can save for your retirement?”

Because one situation that could happen is; Tom and Emily could get married, have kids, she stays at home primarily with the kids, meanwhile Tom’s career continues to take off and he’s making substantial money and putting substantial money away for retirement and then worst case scenario, they get divorced fifteen years down the road, and now Emily doesn’t have any retirement savings. But because the prenuptial agreement that they came in to fifteen years before said that his retirement would be his and hers would be hers, well they’re at a significant disadvantage. And so we were able to look at it and look at some hypotheticals and put language in there that made sense to him and made sense to her, and that would provide for some of these eventualities and also, most importantly, allowed her to plan what she was going to do with her career now, as it relates to what the prenuptial agreement ultimately said. We didn’t blow up the marriage. They ended up getting married and they were both happy, and we made the marriage a happy day, but we were able to address a lot of these concerns that come up.

People come to lawyers and they think, “Oh, lawyers just create more problems than exists.” Well, I don’t think that’s completely fair because, as a lawyer, I don’t create problems, I just point out issues that potentially could arise and it’s important to think about these issues so you don’t get yourself in a situation in which fifteen years down the road, you come back and you regret what you had done. It’s all about being informed and if you come and see me at the law offices of Kevin Jensen, I’ll sit down with you and I’ll take time to understand what you want to do and what you’re wanting to accomplish, so that we don’t end up in a situation in which you signed something that you don’t know what it means and you’re not properly informed. Come and see me, I’ll take the time to sit down with you, and we’ll do right by you.

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Jensen Family Law in Gilbert
4365 E Pecos Rd # 138,
Gilbert, AZ 85295
(480) 900-2302




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