Making and Breaking Premarital Agreements in Illinois

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Making and Breaking Premarital Agreements in Illinois

Until fairly recently, only the super-wealthy bothered with prenuptial agreements in Illinois. The complex web of laws made these agreements difficult to make. In terms of enforcement, results varied significantly in different counties in the state, as well as different courtrooms in the same county.

Today, most states, including Illinois, have adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. The UPAA significantly streamlined the process of making a premarital agreement. It also standardized the enforcement process. As a result, the number of premarital agreements has increased by 500% since the 1990s.

If you have been married before and/or you want to put your marriage on a stronger footing, you should talk to a Schaumburg family law attorney about a premarital agreement. These pacts decide divisive issues in advance, so they never have a chance to poison your marriage. Furthermore, if the couple divorces, premarital agreements usually help the parties avoid protracted and expensive litigation.

Making a Premarital Agreement in Cook County

Rich and poor couples fight about money a lot. In fact, financial disagreements are one of the leading causes of marital strife.

Premarital agreements often remove money from the equation. Since the subject never comes up, the couple never fights about money. Additionally, premarital agreements streamline the property classification process. Determining whether an asset or debt is marital or nonmarital is often the most time-consuming and emotionally draining portion of a divorce. 

These agreements also determine inheritance and succession matters. When a person divorces, the divorce revokes the children’s inheritance rights. Many times, that is not the intended result. So, a premarital agreement can clarify a spouse’s wishes. That is especially a good idea if one spouse has a family business.

To cement their wishes, many spouses draw up executory documents along with their premarital agreements, such as wills and trusts.

Prenups can cover almost any other subject as well. For example, they can cap, or even eliminate, spousal support payments. Child support and parenting time divisions are about the only off-limits subjects. The best interests of the children, and not the best interests of the parents, govern these decisions.

Breaking a Premarital Agreement in Illinois

Just like any other contract, a premarital agreement is very solid, if an experienced attorney drafts it. No contract is ironclad. However, it is very difficult to undo a premarital agreement which one spouse claims is unfair. There are basically two approaches:

  • Involuntary: Premarital agreements are usually involuntary if one spouse did not know what s/he was signing because the other party withheld important information and the challenging spouse did not have an independent lawyer who gave good advice. In a few cases, excessive pressure to sign, like “You are not leaving this room until you sign,” may also render an agreement involuntary.
  • Unconscionable: There is a difference between “unconscionable” and “uneven.” A 70-30 split is uneven, but probably not unconscionable. On the other hand, a division in which one spouse gets all the assets and the other spouse gets all the debts is probably unconscionable, unless the other spouse had significant nonmarital property. Additionally, the challenging spouse must show that the agreement was unconscionable when it was made. This aspect comes up a lot in stock and stock option division cases.

Most prenuptial agreements have severability clauses. If a judge invalidates one part, the rest remains in effect.

Partner with a Tenacious Lawyer

If you have been married before, you probably need a prenuptial agreement. For a free consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Chicago, contact the Andrea Heckman Law Convenient payment plans are available.

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