Prenuptial Agreements: Do They Make Sense for You?

 Posted on February 02, 2014 in Divorce

People often think that only the extremely wealthy need prenuptial agreements; however, with divorce now a common event in people’s lives, more and more couples can benefit from using them. While many people, understandably, find such topics uncomfortable to discuss before a wedding, the protection prenuptial agreements provide can save much heartache later.

prenuptial agreement IMAGEHow Prenuptial Agreements Work

In Illinois, prenuptial agreements are governed by the Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. This act sets out the general rules about topics that premarital agreements can regulate, which include:

  • The rights and obligations of the parties regarding any property;
  • The disposition of any property in the event of divorce or spousal death;
  • The modification or elimination of spousal support;
  • Ownership rights in life insurance policies;
  • Any other matter regarding the personal rights and obligations of the spouses.

The Act also regulates the formalities of the agreement. It requires that premarital agreements be in writing and signed by both parties in order to be enforceable. It also allows the act to be revoked or modified by later documents signed by both parties.

The Benefits of Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial agreements can benefit spouses in a variety of ways. One common way that people use premarital agreements involves businesses they built. They can use the agreement to insure that the spouse does not take an interest in the company after the divorce. But, these agreements can benefit more people than just entrepreneurs. Spouses can use the agreements to protect cherished family heirlooms, or to shield themselves from becoming responsible for debt that the other spouse took on before the marriage.

Another use for prenuptial agreements comes in to play in the case of second or third marriages. If a spouse wants to ensure that particular items acquired before the second marriage go to the first marriage’s children, they can use the prenuptial agreement to accomplish that goal.

What Prenuptial Agreements Cannot Do

Illinois law places some limits on the duties that prenuptial agreements may impose. For instance, spouses cannot determine or modify their child support payments using a prenuptial agreement. Additionally, the court limits a prenuptial agreement’s ability to set spousal support payments. Although the law lets couples write spousal support provisions into the contract, courts may overrule them in the event that the agreement’s provisions would cause “undue hardship” to one of the spouses in a way that they could not reasonably foresee when they entered into the agreement.

These are just some of the complexities associated with prenuptial agreements. If you think such an agreement might be right for you, contact a Dupage County family law attorney. Their experience can help you set up the agreement that is the best fit for your situation.
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