Divorce and Family Law

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The decision to file for a divorce is often one of the most difficult and important choices a person will make in their lifetime. It is a decision that will affect virtually every aspect of your life, your personal relationships, your financial security, your job, as well as your future. At Daniel J. Siegel, P.C., we hope we can offer you some basic facts about the divorce process. We believe that the more information you have about the process, the better prepared you will be to deal with the experience and to achieve the results you desire.

Contested Divorce and Uncontested Divorce

If a divorce is contested, it means the petitioner and respondent do not agree on some aspect of the case and the respondent has filed a response to contest it. Some examples of issues that must be resolved prior to the court granting a divorce are legal decision-making (formerly known as custody), child support, spousal maintenance, the division of property and debts. If an agreement cannot be reached by both parties, the case will go to a trial before a judge who will render a decision on the unresolved issues. In Arizona, there are no juries in a divorce case.

A uncontested divorce is one that the parties mutually agree on all the issues and there are no disputes.

Arizona Is a Community Property State, and the law of community property guides the courts when dividing marital assets.

All property acquired during the marriage is presumed to be community property. The courts thus consider all property acquired during a marriage to be community in nature and subject to 50/50 division. However, certain property is considered to be separate property, not subject to division, including:

  • Property owned prior to the marriage
  • Property one spouse received as a gift
  • Property acquired through a will or inheritance


Premarital and Post-Marital Agreements

Many people initially react negatively at the suggestion of a premarital agreement. That response is common because most people do not understand the security and peace of mind that a premarital agreement can have for both parties.

A premarital agreement can protect the financial interests of both parties in the marriage, not just one party. It allows the couple to talk about financial matters, ownership issues, debts and inheritance concerns. If one of the parties dies without a will, the premarital or post-marital agreement can define how assets should be dispersed.

Premarital agreements are an excellent tool that should be considered by:

  • Anyone entering a second marriage with children from a first marriage;
  • Anyone who owns a business or has significant financial interests in a business;
  • Anyone that had a difficult prior divorce and now feels the need for greater financial security prior to remarriage;
  • Situations where one partner will be entering the marriage with a considerable amount of debt or is undertaking a risky business venture;

Contact Daniel J. Siegel if you are contemplating marriage and are considering a premarital agreement. Daniel J. Siegel is a Certified Specialist in Family Law experienced in drafting premarital and post-marital agreements. Daniel J. Siegel can help you consider the pros and cons of a premarital agreement and help you develop an agreement that fits your particular desires and needs.

Post-Marital Agreements

A post-marital agreement is very similar to a premarital agreement, but it is created and entered into after the marriage. A couple may enter into a post-marital agreement for a variety of reasons. If they forgot to include assets in their initial premarital agreement, or if changed circumstances warrant it and the parties wish to formalize their preferences regarding those changes. For example:

  • If one partner owned a business prior to the marriage and it flourished and grew after the marriage and the operating spouse wants to ensure that it is inherited by family members rather than an uninvolved second spouse;
  • If a spouse is starting a risky business venture after the marriage and the other spouse wants to protect his/her share of the existing marital assets;
  • If a spouse wanted to try and protect their assets from potential creditors;

In order for a premarital or post-marital agreement to be valid, it must be prepared properly in accordance with Arizona Law.  Working with a skilled and experienced family law attorney, you can have confidence that your agreement will be valid and enforced. Contact Daniel J. Siegel to schedule a consultation to answer your questions and obtain the proper legal advice.

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