An Arizona resident who negotiated and signed a prenuptial agreement before marriage might wonder in the wake of extreme marital difficulty whether it will achieve its purposes in divorce.

Alternatively, a soon-to-be ex-partner might think that the agreement he or she signed prior to betrothal was unfair and now wonder if there is any chance that a court might deem it legally unenforceable.

Signatories to marital contracts routinely have such thoughts, and rightfully so. Premarital contracts are routinely scrutinized by judges in exacting fashion. And it is far from a rarity for a court to toss out select provisions from an agreement — or a document in its entirety — for a number of reasons.

A recent national article spotlighting considerations relevant to prenuptial contracts notes that such agreements can be potent tools for advancing specified goals when “done right.” Children from prior marriages can be protected. Separate property brought into a marriage can be identified and shielded. Agreement can be reached on pre-marriage debt incurred by one of the spouses. Subject matter such as real estate and an operative business can be addressed.

Conversely, a court can quickly toss an agreement that it views as being defective on various grounds. We note on our website at the Law Office of Katherine Kraus in Peoria that “many prenuptial agreements are so loosely constructed that courts pay no attention to them.”

That reality is instructive and presents a clear lesson for any party thinking about negotiating and crafting a marital contract.

The takeaway is this: Draft it tightly and with due regard for law and public policy. A proven family law attorney can help with the process and seek to ensure that a prenup or other marital agreement is fully enforceable in a court of law.