Enforcement of Illinois Prenuptial Agreements
DuPage County Lawyers Provide Prenuptial Agreement Enforcement Help
Prenuptial agreements are a common way individuals can protect assets and property prior to marriage. Though couples may believe a prenuptial agreement is set in stone once it is signed, there are circumstances under which Illinois courts can invalidate or nullify a prenuptial agreement.
A brief overview of prenuptial agreements
Agreements entered into before marriage are often referred to as prenups. Before signing a prenup it is important to seek the advice of an Illinois family law attorney to ensure the provisions correctly detail your wishes and comply with Illinois statutes related to prenuptial agreements. Once agreed upon and signed by both parties, properly drafted prenuptial agreements are a legal contract and their stipulations must be carried out.
High net-worth couples often utilize prenuptial agreements to protect each partner's assets or business interests in the event the relationship fails. The agreements can also outline each partner's maintenance (alimony) obligations as well as non-financial considerations.
Illinois legal requirements
In Illinois, prenuptial agreements must be in writing and signed by both parties in order to be enforceable. Prenuptial agreements can include provisions detailing the division of assets if the relationship breaks down and ends in divorce.
Both parties must voluntarily sign the prenuptial agreement. Neither party can be forced to sign an agreement. An agreement signed while drunk or right before a wedding may not hold up in court. Further, neither party may keep property or assets hidden.
For example, an Illinois prenuptial agreement can exempt one partner from paying alimony to the other partner, but only if doing so does not create undue hardship for the spouse that would receive the support. In some situations, a court can require an ex-spouse to pay enough alimony to eliminate the hardship, regardless of a stipulation agreed to by the parties before the marriage.
Invalid prenuptial provisions
A prenuptial agreement can be invalidated for a variety of reasons. By way of example, if one partner was dishonest in reporting assets, it could invalidate the documents depending on the severity of the fraud. Reporting $500,000 in assets while actually possessing $550,000 may not break an agreement, but reporting $500,000 in assets while possessing millions in hidden offshore bank accounts might.
A prenuptial agreement will be unenforceable under Illinois state law is the court finds that it is "unconscionable." An example would be for one partner to stipulate in a prenuptial agreement that he or she will not pay child support to the custodial parent.
In certain situations, a prenuptial agreement may not be enforceable, especially if fraud, coercion or other unconscionable acts have contributed to or are outlined in the contract. If you believe your prenuptial agreement violates Illinois law or to seek assistance drafting and negotiating a lawful, enforceable agreement, contact an experienced family law attorney to discuss rights and obligations under a current agreement or a proposed prenup.