The Basics on the Enforceability of Premarital Agreements in Illinois

Premarital agreements (also known as "prenuptial agreements" or "antenuptial agreements") are contracts that are entered into by two people prior to their marriage. Traditionally these agreements were used almost solely for very wealthy individuals, but they are becoming more common.

A popular use of them today is for second or subsequent marriages to dictate that property or funds will be reserved for children or grandchildren of a former marriage. Prenuptial agreements are versatile, and can be used to arrange for the disposal of property, set parameters for later spousal support/alimony payments, to protect family-owned business assets, and to limit future litigation.

Illinois is one of nearly 30 states that have adopted the basic concepts set forth in the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA). The UPAA was enacted into law as the Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (IUPAA); it governs all premarital agreements signed in Illinois since January 1, 1990.

In addition to giving information about drafting enforceable premarital agreements, the IUPAA provides guidance for judges who must decide if an agreement should be voided. For example, a prenuptial agreement could be rendered unenforceable if the party who wants it voided can prove that:

  • There was never a written, signed record of the agreement
  • One party was under duress when signing the contract
  • One party either was not given adequate time to fully read the agreement, or the language was so dense that it was essentially unreadable to a layperson
  • There are provisions in the agreement that are unenforceable - like those containing illegalities or those attempting to contract away child support obligations
  • One or both parties has lied about income, debts, assets or other important information
  • Both parties were represented by a single attorney during negotiations of the premarital contract
  • The agreement is unconscionable

Of course, the validity and enforceability of every Illinois premarital agreement is a unique determination that must be made based on an analysis of the specific facts of a particular case. If you or a loved one have questions about drafting or enforcing a prenuptial contract, speak with an experienced family law attorney in your area for more information. The family law attorneys at Andrew Cores Family Law Group can help you understand the benefits of a prenuptial agreement and assist you in determining whether a prenuptial agreement is right for you.

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