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Phoenix Divorce Law Blog

When can a premarital agreement be set aside in Arizona?

Prenuptial agreements are an important tool couples can use to protect themselves from financial loss in the event of divorce. As we've mentioned previously on this blog, though, it is important to take care when negotiating and drafting these agreements to ensure everything is done correctly. A careless prenuptial agreement won't do a couple any good and will only result in unnecessary costs and court appearances.

Under Arizona law, there are two general conditions under which a prenuptial agreement will not be enforced by a court. One of these is when a court determines that the agreement was not executed voluntarily. An agreement executed under duress or coercion does not represent a real agreement, and courts will not recognize them.

Tip: make sure your prenup says what you think it says

In our last post, we spoke about the grounds on which prenuptial agreements can be invalidated in the state of Arizona. As we mentioned, there are two basic grounds for a finding of invalidity. One is when a party did not voluntarily enter into the agreement. The other is when the agreement is fundamentally unfair and a party was not provided adequate information about the other party's assets and debts.

A recent article in Forbes looked at another issue related to prenuptial agreement: getting the language right. The article mentioned a recent New York divorce case to highlight the way in which minor details in the wording of a prenuptial agreement can have a significant outcome on how things turn out in divorce. We will not repeat the details of that case, but suffice it to say that getting the wording correct is important.

Dividing the family pet in divorce not always an easy issue

In divorce, there can be disputes over many things, including the family home, specific items shared by the couple, child custody, spousal support, and so on. One of the items that is becoming more and more an object of dispute are family pets. This makes sense, being that family pets often involve deep sentiments.

Traditionally considered to be property, pets have generally been subject to division in the same way other property was. Increasingly, though, couples are asking courts to treat pets more like children than property, in some cases changing their treatment in property division to a quasi-custody issue. Family law courts, of course, are not bound to treat pets the same way children have to be treated under the law-best interests of the child and so on-but couples are sometimes able to convince courts to incorporate custody aspects such as joint custody and parenting plans.

Griffin requests that court uphold prenuptial agreement

In a recent post, we wrote about the ongoing divorce case of Ken Griffin, founder of the hedge fund Citadel. One of the big issues in the divorce is a prenuptial agreement between Ken Griffin and his wife. She, as we noted, has asked that the agreement be thrown out because she was coerced into signing it and because it is unfair.

New information has reportedly come forward about the agreement from Mr. Griffin's side. In particular, his attorneys have requested a declaratory judgment that the prenuptial agreement is valid in order to avoid litigation. His lawyers have also requested a judgment that the agreement does not cause Ms. Griffin undue hardship, which would be a circumstance allowing it to be set aside under Illinois law.

Court of appeals approves enforcing out-of-state child support orders

Under a new ruling from an Arizona Court of Appeals gives judges the ability to enforce child support orders from other states, reversing a previous ruling that Arizona law doesn't allow for modification of child support orders from other states.

The case involved a woman who argued that a North Carolina child support order against her former husband should be enforced. Opposing her efforts, he argued that Arizona law would not permit enforcement of the order. The purpose of the Arizona law in question was to ensure there is only one child support order for judges to go by at any given time.

Obtaining a child support order modification in Arizona

In our last post, we wrote about a recent Arizona Court of Appeals ruling which permits enforcement of out-of-state child support orders. The ruling, as we noted, was based on the fact that enforcing an out-of-state child support order would present the kind of confusion modifying an out-of-state order would. It is modification of child support orders, then, that is the real problem.

Child support modification is, however, possible for in-state orders. Modifications can be sought through the Arizona Division of Child Support Services. In determining whether a modification will be granted, there are several requirements that must be met. In particular, there must be a change in circumstances which is substantial and continuing. By substantial is meant that the order, if recalculated, would change by 15 percent or more.

Remarrying? Consider a prenuptial agreement this time around

For some people, entering into a second or third marriage is not the stressful event that it was the first time around. Having been through the process before, it makes sense that there would be less anxiety about the unknown. Still, this should not stop remarrying couples from evaluating their financial situation and taking appropriate steps to protect themselves.

In fact, financial preparation is often more important when entering into a second or third marriage. This is especially the case for couples who bring significant assets or debts to the table, as well as children from a previous marriage, or a poor credit history. Because financial security is not a small factor in the success of marriages, it is important to take all of this seriously amidst the prospect of having found a new love.

Permanent alimony awards rare in AZ, but can occur

Alimony is only one issue among several that are dealt with in divorce, and it is often handled close to the end of the process. Because of this, it is not always clear how alimony will be decided in divorce cases. What is particularly unpredictable is the length of time for which alimony will be awarded. As a recent TIME article points out, in cases where lifetime alimony is awarded, there are often strong feelings of resentment and injustice.

The opposition to lifetime alimony has prompted discussion about potential reform in the way judges make determinations on the issue. Some states, such as Massachusetts, have abolished permanent or lifetime alimony, at least in most cases. Even in states which have not formally abolished permanent alimony, such awards are becoming increasingly rare. The reasons for this are good ones, and include the fact that the ability to change one's financial situation after divorce, particularly for women, has drastically improved. Still, there are situations where it is still awarded.

Different states handle divorce different ways

Where a couple obtains their divorce can affect the divorce process, sometimes significantly. This can be seen in a couple of different ways. First, it can be seen with respect to issues like filing fees; residency requirements; waiting and separation periods; and the minimum amount of time to complete the divorce. All of these factors can make a difference in a divorce case, and a recent Forbes article ranked states according to how they measured up in these areas.

The article listed the top seven worst states to get divorced, basing its rankings on the above factors. Fortunately, the state of Arizona did not make it to the top seven. California was the only western state which did, largely because of the high filing fees, significant minimum length of time to complete a divorce; and long waiting period.

Be aware of your health insurance coverage rights during and after divorce

Health insurance is a critical asset nowadays, one which Americans cannot afford to go without. This is why it is so important in divorce to have a plan worked out for ensuring coverage for oneself and one's children. Fortunately, states have recognized this and have put certain protections in place for divorcing couples so that lack of insurance coverage is not an issue.

Under Arizona law, spouse and children who are dependent on the other spouse for health insurance are able to continue being covered under the plan, but the dependent spouse and/or his or her children must take steps to continue receiving coverage. First of all, if a dependent spouse wants to continue their coverage after the divorce is completed, he or she has to contact the insurance company immediately and begin paying insurance premiums within 31 days of the date the insurance coverage would otherwise terminate. This can be done with respect to both oneself and one's children if one is responsible for their care.

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