Phoenix Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreement Lawyers
Before Arizona lawmakers adopted the Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act, only super-rich couples bothered with premarital agreements. A web of laws made these matters extremely complex. Furthermore, the subjective laws lead to unpredictable results. The UPMAA changed these dynamics. Now, a solid premarital agreement is a good option for most couples, especially if they have been married before.
Furthermore, premarital agreements are not just divorce insurance. In many cases, these pacts make marriages stronger. Money is one of the leading causes of marital discord. Prenuptial agreements remove these matters from the equation, so they never have a chance to poison your marriage.
The experienced Phoenix prenuptial agreement lawyers at Stratton Family Law are very well-versed in these matters. They know how to quickly construct solid prenups that match your needs and goals. On the other side, the Stratton Family Law team also provides effective solutions for spouses who need to break unfavorable prenups. Whatever your concern is, we are on your side.
Making a Premarital Agreement
As mentioned, premarital agreements often address money matters, such as spousal support, property division, and property administration. Alimony limits often address concerns that a spouse is just a “golddigger.” Property division, even though Arizona is a community property state, is often one of the most time-consuming portions of a divorce case. Addressing these issues in advance reduces financial and emotional costs in the event of a marriage dissolution.
Many prenuptial agreements also deal with inheritance and succession matters. For these purposes, divorce is akin to death. Generally, marriage dissolution terminates these rights for biological children. Frequently, that’s not the intended result, particularly if a family business is involved.
To make their wishes clear, many people have a Phoenix premarital agreement lawyer drafts wills, trusts, and other estate planning documents contemporaneously with the prenup.
Child custody and child support matters are about the only off-limits items. In Maricopa County, these decisions must be in the best interests of the children, as opposed to the best interests of the parents.
Breaking a Premarital Agreement
In general, no contract is completely ironclad. So, there are some ways to escape an unfavorable premarital agreement. However, as mentioned, the UMPAA greatly streamlined this process. So, there are basically two ways to undo a valid prenuptial pact:
- Involuntary: Pressure to sign, even a “sign or else” ultimatum, usually does not render these agreements involuntary. Pressure to sign is inevitable. So, unless the pressure was so extreme it bordered on physical coercion, withheld information is the best way to overturn a premarital agreement on these grounds. The challenging spouse must prove the other spouse did not come clean, the withheld information was material to the agreement, and the disputed data was not available elsewhere.
- Unconscionable: There is a difference between “uneven” and “unconscionable.” Divisions are unconscionable if they make one’s stomach turn. Additionally, the agreement must have been unconscionable when it was made. Stock is a good example. These certificates can be worthless one day, valuable the next day, and worthless again later on.
Most premarital agreements have severability clauses. So, if a Maricopa County judge declares one part invalid, the remainder is still in effect.
A Premarital Agreement “Success Story”
Depending on one’s perspective, the Frank and Jamie McCourt/Los Angeles Dodgers saga could be a premarital agreement success story or a story about failure. California is also a UMPAA state, so the results would have been the same in Arizona.
Frank and Jamie, a SoCal billionaire power couple, bought the Los Angeles Dodgers in 2004. The McCourts probably believed they were buying low so they could sell high. But the Dodgers continued sinking lower, at least from a financial standpoint.
The Dodgers won the World Series in 1988. Then, a series of underachieving teams caused fan interest, and club revenue, to decrease. In 2011, the Dodgers filed bankruptcy. Reportedly, the team owners could not have made payroll for the second half of June.
While the Dodgers were in bankruptcy court, its owners were in divorce court. During these proceedings, the couple signed a property agreement. One of its provisions gave Jamie about $180 million in cash and property in exchange for her half of the team. Since the Dodgers were bankrupt and literally worthless at that moment, the tradeoff seemed like a good deal. But the team’s value skyrocketed, largely due to the arrival of pitching ace Clayton Kershaw. So, in 2012, Frank sold the team for a stunning $2.1 billion.
Almost immediately, Jamie challenged the property agreement in court. It left her roughly $900 million short of a 50-50 split in a community property state. That’s unconscionable by almost any definition. Jamie also argued that Frank withheld financial information about the team, so the agreement was involuntary.
The court disagreed on both points. The agreement was not unconscionable when it was made. Instead, “Jamie simply chose the security of a guaranteed $131 million payment, plus more than $50 million in real and personal property, over the uncertainty and risk presented by the valuation and sale of the Dodger assets,” the court stated.
Jamie also lost her involuntariness argument. Frank turned over tens of thousands of pages of records during discovery, according to court documents. Moreover, Jamie was a team co-owner at the time. So, she had access to as much Dodgers financial information as she wanted. The court upheld the prenup and made Jamie pay Frank’s legal fees.
If you have been married before, consider making a premarital agreement before tying the knot again. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Phoenix, contact Stratton Family Law. The sooner you reach out to us, the sooner we start working for you.