Premarital agreements and property division

On behalf of Stange Law Firm, PC posted in Property Division on Wednesday, July 16, 2014.

Just as in other states, in Illinois and Missouri, too, the ardor-dampening feelings that many people have long associated with premarital agreements are dissipating.

For a long time, such agreements — namely, prenuptial agreements executed prior to marriage and postnuptial contracts entered into following marriage — were viewed with suspicion by many romantic partners and even as marriage breakers.

That image is steadily changing, with more American couples realizing the considerable value that such agreements command for their ability to help identify marriage priorities and plan for the future.

That can be especially true when considerations focused on property division are deemed important to partners about to tie the knot. Perhaps one of those partners owns a business and wants to ensure that it is retained by siblings or other relatives in the future. Perhaps the other partner has inherited real estate and wants to keep it safely designated as separate property.

A marital contract can be a tremendously utilitarian and flexible legal instrument for identifying and purposefully dealing with property-related matters, provided that it is fully negotiated, carefully drafted and subsequently immune from attack on alleged grounds of unenforceability.

Such considerations render it imperative that an attorney with considerable experience in working with such contracts be on board early to clarify terms, address concerns, draft documents and help ensure that all legalities are complied with.

That participation is essential, given the potential for a marital contract to be challenged for a host of reasons, including duress, coercion, undue influence, failure to comply with state law and other matters.

As a commentator on premarital agreement recommends, “Always involved experienced legal counsel in creating, reviewing, and enforcing a premarital contract.”

Source: Huffington Post, “A premarital agreement primer,” Brad Reid, June 26, 2014

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