What Is A Postnuptial Agreement?

Wheaton Divorce Lawyers

The term “prenup” can sometimes evoke negative thoughts and is often affiliated with only the wealthy. However, in recent years with divorce rates spiking, both prenuptial and postnuptial agreements have become increasingly common for all married couples regardless of their financial status. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are written contracts that provide for what will happen financially in the event of divorce. These agreements may limit the amount of spousal support (alimony) an individual can recover, whether the other spouse is entitled to any assets or inheritances the other spouse is entering the marriage with, or what property will be subject to division upon divorce. Since it is a contract, the parties are free to agree to virtually any terms they wish. As such, it is critical to consult with an experienced Illinois family law attorney before drafting or entering into any agreement that may limit your prospective financial recovery in the event of a divorce.

What Is the Difference Between a Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreement?

At its core, the difference between the marital agreements is that one is signed before marriage and one is signed after. A prenuptial agreement is typically preferable to a postnuptial agreement so there is no confusion regarding assets obtained between the time of the marriage and the time the postnuptial agreement is executed.

When a couple marries, any property, including real property, personal property, income, assets, retirement accounts, 401(k) accounts, or any other monetary gain that is received by either party during the course of the marriage is considered marital property. Marital property is subject to equitable division when a couple decides to divorce. Absent agreements to the contrary, prenuptial agreements may only protect assets that one individual enters the marriage with, meaning that marital property will generally still be subject to division between the parties in the event of divorce. If instead, the parties enter into a postnuptial agreement, the agreement will need to specifically address the disposition of any marital property obtained during the period between the marriage and the execution of the postnuptial agreement. Regardless of whether you are entering a pre or postnuptial agreement, it is important to communicate to the drafter what your intentions are regarding the past, present, and future income as it relates to division in the event of divorce.

Why Do I Need Help Drafting Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreements?

Regardless of whether you want to protect your assets from your future spouse in the event of a divorce or if you are the individual being asked to sign a marital agreement, drafting errors are one of the most common mistakes that can make a marital agreement unenforceable in a court of law. Careful drafting that includes an examination of all possible scenarios is required for a complete, legally binding agreement. There are many circumstances that can give rise to a divorce, and prenuptial agreements can contain information pertaining to infidelity or other common bases for divorce that may affect one spouse’s desire or need to provide financial support to the other after a divorce.

Both prenuptial and postnuptial agreements contemplate circumstances and outcomes that a husband and wife might think they will never face. However, if the time comes, you will be relieved that all foreseeable circumstances have been considered and that you already have a solution regarding the division of your assets. Additionally, if your circumstances or desires change, it is possible to modify a pre-existing prenuptial agreement into a post-marriage postnuptial agreement to better reflect your current needs. Drafting, modifying, and enforcing pre and postnuptial agreements all requires the specific knowledge of experienced family law attorneys.

Contact A DuPage County Divorce Attorney

At Abear Law Offices, our team of skilled Illinois family law attorneys understands the financial impact both marriage and divorce can have on your life. We strive to protect our client’s interests and explain their legal rights and responsibilities in a way they can truly understand, regardless of whether they are the one issuing or agreeing to a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. If you are looking to have a future spouse sign a marital agreement, we can help you explore all likely scenarios that you may want to include to limit future litigation over your finances. Alternatively, if you are being asked to sign a marital agreement, we can help you understand your rights and responsibilities if you choose to sign the legally binding document that will substantially affect your finances in the event of divorce. To learn more about how we can help you and your family draft, modify, or enforce pre and postnuptial agreements in Illinois, contact one of our five convenient Chicago area family law offices today. Call (630) 904-3033 to schedule an initial consultation.

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