The Importance of Illinois Prenuptial Agreements

DuPage County Family Law Attorneys

The prenuptial agreement. We hear about it in movies, on television, and may have signed one or know someone that signed one before entering into marriage. For those of us that either have not signed one or want to know what happens after you sign one, there are a few basic things to understand about prenuptial agreements in the state of Illinois. Prenuptial agreements are governed by the Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, which sets the parameters for entering into premarital agreements such as prenuptials. Understanding prenuptial agreements in the context of family law considerations may help you determine whether a prenuptial agreement is the safe or logical move for you and your future spouse.

Prenuptial Agreements: The Basics

A prenuptial agreement is essentially a contract entered into between both parties to a marriage governing an array of information pertaining to the protection of one or both party’s assets, property, finances, or other rights/obligations.

Despite unfounded criticism that entering into a prenuptial agreements necessarily evokes a lack of trust, prenuptial agreements are practical, thorough, and succinct ways to express future desires between a couple. While it is true that prenuptials may be more likely to exist in relationships where there is a significant income disparity between the two, this is not necessarily always the case. Prenuptial agreements can govern most any asset, property, taxation, or personal issue between the parties, and may even be modified in most jurisdictions to allow some flexibility if and when circumstances for the couple change (consider: serious illness, children considerations, family considerations).

Prenuptial Agreements in Illinois

Under Illinois law, a premarital agreement in general is an agreement entered into before marriage that becomes effective upon marriage. In reference specifically to premarital agreements, Illinois law permits inclusion of the following:

  • Rights and obligations pertaining to property;
  • Right to buy, sell, use, transfer, or manage property;
  • Disposition of all property upon divorce;
  • Elimination or modification of future spousal support (alimony);
  • Wills, trusts, and other documentation information;
  • Life insurance beneficiary considerations;
  • Choice of law (where any possible lawsuits will be filed, divorce proceedings will take place, custody issues determined); and
  • “Any other matter, including their personal rights and obligations, not in violation of public policy or a statute imposing a criminal penalty.”

Note two things here: First, “property” is broadly defined as any real or personal property, including income and earnings. Second, though the prenuptial agreement may speak to an issue regarding child support or alimony, these declarations may not survive a subsequent court order. This is especially true regarding issues of child custody; if a court determines that the plan proposed in the prenuptial agreement is not in the best interest of the child at the time of the couple’s separation, the prenuptial agreement may not be extended to cover that portion.

While everything might not pan out according to plan, having a prenuptial agreement is one way to ensure that you have asset protection in place, should something go awry in your marriage. This does not need to be viewed as a breach of trust, but rather, a way to ensure you are protecting (at the very least) the assets you contributed to the marriage upon entering it. Prenuptial agreements are mutually agreed upon by both parties; thus, compromises can be reached, provisions can be explained, and there is an opportunity for both spouses to be heard on issues they think should or should not be included in the agreement. These agreements must be mutually agreed upon and like any other contract, if one of the parties was coerced, under duress, involuntarily signed, or otherwise executed the prenuptial agreement under false pretenses, it may not be enforceable to that end.

Wheaton, Illinois Prenuptial Agreement Attorneys

The decision to get married is not merely a financial, personal, or emotional one—it creates a series of legal obligations that should be clearly understood before entering. Understanding whether you should have your spouse agree to a prenuptial agreement, if the prenuptial agreement should ever be amended, and understanding what the ramifications are in the long and short term are all important factors to consider before tying the knot. You have a right to protect your assets.

The experienced Wheaton family law attorneys at Abear Law Offices will help you and your future spouse understand the process of entering into an Illinois prenuptial agreement and can assist you and your spouse in coming to an amicable resolution of any differences before finalizing a decree. If you or anyone you know is considering marriage, contact our Wheaton law office at (630) 904-3033 to learn more about your legal rights and how to protect your assets today.

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