Everyone going into a marriage expects it to last forever. They would not be entering into it if they did not. Yet, the reality is that a large portion of marriages fail. Unwinding a marriage through the divorce process can be time-consuming, expensive, and emotionally draining. Fortunately, Illinois law provides couples with the opportunity to protect themselves from this hassle beforehand. The state allows couples to prepare prenups, short for prenuptial agreements or premarital agreements. These agreements allow couples to agree on issues of property division and spousal support in advance of the marriage in case a divorce ever happened.
Despite these benefits, many people approach the subject of prenups with some trepidation. The documents have a stigma that people are planning for the divorce or they do not have faith in the marriage. However, that is not what prenups are about. They are simply preparation for a rainy day. It is does not take a lack of faith to hope for the best but prepare for the worst.
What A Prenup Is
A prenup is a contract that the members of the couple enter into with each other that lays out many of their rights and obligations in the event of a divorce. For instance, the spouses can negotiate spousal support obligations with each other beforehand. They can also make decisions about the division of property. For instance, if one spouse has an important family heirloom, they can ensure that they do not lose it during the divorce. Importantly, prenups cannot settle every issue that would arise in a divorce. Most importantly, child support and child custody decisions cannot be made through prenups because those decisions would affect the rights of the child who is not a party to the contract.
How to Broach the Subject
Even though these prenups can provide valuable protection, people are still not sure how to raise the idea with their significant other for fear of looking like they have one foot out the door. One key thing to do is to have the conversation early and to be straightforward about it. Illinois law enforces prenups, but if they seem like one party surprised the other or pressured them into signing it, then the court may choose to void it. One of the best ways to solve this problem is to give both spouses the opportunity to be represented by separate family law attorneys.
As far as the actual conversation goes, it can be helpful to have a candid talk about how the prenup provides protection to both people. Make it clear that both spouses can benefit from the document's clarity, and that drafting a prenup is very different from ever wanting to use a prenup.
These conversations can be difficult to have, but the protections can pay off later on. If you are curious about the possibility of drafting a prenup, contact an experienced DuPage County family law attorney