Recent years have seen a growth in the number of people choosing to create prenuptial agreements prior to their marriage. In addition to protecting the assets and the rights of both parties, prenuptial agreements can also be used to define the terms of the marriage and set expectations regarding the disposition of property and other issues. For those who haven’t had the time or foresight to create an agreement before getting married, a post-nuptial agreement, made after marriage has taken place, can serve the same purpose.
A prenuptial agreement, postnuptial agreement, or domestic partnership agreement can remove many areas of potential conflict from the relationship. It can provide peace of mind for both parties over the course of the marriage or relationship and actually serve to strengthen it.
However, under Illinois law, there are many potential pitfalls in drafting these agreements, which can defeat the purpose, so it makes sense to get legal assistance. The experienced and compassionate family law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec, Ltd. understand the many issues that affect the agreement’s validity. We draft agreements carefully, and provide advice at anytime during the course of the relationship about the meaning or effect of the language contained in them.
We offer a free consultation to find the best way to handle your individual situation. Call us today for assistance and peace of mind.
Realistically speaking, divorce is a common occurrence in the United States, with about 40 to 50 percent of first marriages ending in divorce — and the divorce rate for subsequent marriages is even higher. Illinois is an equitable-distribution state, meaning the courts will divide property according to what the judge feels is fair and equitable, and not necessarily equally.
Many couples do not want to leave the fate of their property in the hands of the court, and since people are getting married later, with assets they may not wish to commingle, it makes sense to have an agreement in place to simplify matters if necessary. And working out the terms of an agreement can actually help strengthen a marriage by dealing with issues and providing a solid foundation that will protect both spouses. Agreements can serve a positive role in communicating expectations and helping the parties avoid mistakes that can prove costly.
Under Illinois law, a prenuptial agreement made before marriage between potential spouses, is called a “premarital agreement” and is governed by the Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. These agreements typically state how a couple will handle assets, debts, and other financial issues during their marriage and how these matters will be handled should the marriage end. A premarital agreement is a contract that becomes effective upon marriage.
Agreements may address issues that include:
In Illinois, a postnuptial agreement entered into after a couple is married is a legal contract where the parties agree what would happen to the marital property and spousal support should a divorce occur. Post-nuptial agreements may be made if couples didn’t have the time or inclination to write agreements before marriage, or if circumstances change that increase the need to do so.
Reasons may include:
While these agreements can benefit both spouses, there are some risks involved. Since these agreements are legal contracts, you cannot change your mind and try to back out of one because you didn’t read or understand the document.
As with any legal contact, you should make sure not to give away important rights that could hurt you in the event of a divorce. Both spouses should have their own lawyer examine the agreements and make sure their rights are protected and that the documents are written and executed properly.
Agreements may be amended or canceled at any time in writing if notice is signed by both spouses.
Under the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, a premarital agreement may not adversely affect the right of a child to support or bind courts in determining child custody. Agreements are not valid if they are extremely unfair to one party, are entered involuntarily, or result from coercion or fraud. In addition, agreements cannot require anyone to do anything illegal or against public policy.
At Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., we have experience in matters involving prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, including:
The experienced Illinois family law attorneys at Wolfe & Stec understand the special needs of adults making pre- and post-nuptial agreements and will analyze your situation to see what works best in your individual case.
At Wolfe & Stec, Ltd., we made our reputation one client at a time, and we put every ounce of our ability into every case. There are no ready-made solutions in family law – every case needs to be considered on its own merit. Our lawyers take the time to delve deeply into the problems and to understand your goals and concerns. Then we develop a legal strategy designed to achieve those objectives and allow you to resolve issues as quickly, fairly, and peacefully as possible.
Delaying can only complicate your situation and make matters worse. Call us today for your free consultation.