Create a prenuptial agreement that is enforceable in Illinois

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Property Division on Monday, April 8, 2013.

More and more couples are getting prenuptial agreements before walking down the aisle. The point behind these agreements — commonly referred to in Illinois as prenups or premarital agreements — is to address just how property would be divided in the event of a divorce. These are not to jinx a marriage, but are rather to protect the interests of both parties involved.

Because these prenuptial agreements can end up being so important to the future of both spouses, there are certain things couples should make sure of in order to ensure the agreements will be valid and enforceable if the time should ever come for them to be used in court.

The first thing is that these agreements should not be sloppily thrown together at the last minute. Not only does this run the risk of information being left out, but a judge could look at this agreement as not being prepared and negotiated in good faith. For example, if the prenuptial agreement was signed just weeks before a wedding, it may look like one spouse was pressured into signing and was not given enough time to look over the stipulations.

To avoid this, creating a prenuptial agreement should be one of the first things a couple does once they realize they are engaged.

When creating a prenuptial agreement, also keep in mind that everything needs to be in writing. For example, if one spouse has a stipulation — like the prenuptial agreement becoming invalid in the event children are born — this needs to be in writing. If not, it may be hard to prove.

Lastly, make sure everything is true and up-to-date in a prenuptial agreement. This means no hidden assets or undervaluing of assets. This type of dishonesty would be looked upon poorly by a judge and could result in the agreement being deemed invalid. Even if the incorrect information was a mistake, it could still effect the validity of the agreement.

When talking about prenuptial agreements, keep in mind that while it may not seem like the most romantic thing to do after an engagement, many couples actually do end up getting closer as it gives each soon-to-be spouse the chance to talk about finances and what is important to them, while also looking at the overall big financial picture of both husband and wife.

Source: The Wall Street Journal, “Shoring Up Your Prenup,” March 29, 2013

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