Like other states in the country, Arizona allows couples to enter into prenuptial agreements, which are technically called premarital agreements in this state. This means that if two Phoenix residents decide to marry, they can make an agreement in advance as to how asset valuation and division will be handled in the event of either death or divorce, and the courts will enforce that agreement.
Any premarital agreement has to be signed by both parties and be in writing, but Arizona law otherwise is rather lenient when it comes to premarital agreements being enforceable. For one, the contract does not have to have any consideration associated with it, and the law assumes the premarital agreement is in contemplation of marriage and will take effect when the two parties marry each other.
Moreover, instead of focusing on formal requirements or whether both sides had the assistance of an independent attorney when signing the premarital agreement, the law of Arizona puts a heavy emphasis on fairness. As such, the first thing a person must do if he or she wants to challenge a premarital agreement is prove that it is "unconscionable." In other words, if the premarital agreement is reasonably fair, the parties are stuck with it unless they both decide to change it.
Even if a court does find a premarital agreement is unconscionable, the person wanting to avoid it sill has to show that they either did not sign the agreement "voluntarily" or they did not have a full and fair disclosure of their spouse's assets and debts at the time they signed. In other words, if a person signed a bad premarital agreement but was fully informed and free to walk away, they have to bear the consequences of their choice to do so.
Premarital agreements can add another layer of complexity to family law issues. Therefore, the advice of an Arizona family law attorney can be of valuable help in resolving these issues.