IL family lawyerMany couples decide to create a prenuptial agreement together before they get married. Although nobody wants to think about their impending marriage ending in divorce, the period before the marriage is actually a great time to negotiate a prenup because partners have plenty of goodwill towards each other and want to look out for each other’s best interests.

Unfortunately, many people discover that the prenuptial agreement they created is not legally enforceable. Even worse, they generally find this out at the worst possible time - when the divorce proceedings have begun, and they are depending on their prenup to hold up in court.

This article examines the most common factors that cause prenups to be invalid. If you have questions about your personal prenup, an experienced family law attorney is the best person to give you advice.

Lack of Financial Transparency

Because the primary purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to protect spouses’ financial interests in the event of a divorce, a prenuptial agreement must contain accurate and complete financial information from each spouse. If a spouse was not honest when the prenup was being created, then the other spouse made decisions based on invalid information - and that might make the prenup unenforceable.

Manipulation or Duress

If a spouse was truly manipulated into signing a prenup, and that fact is discoverable to a divorce court, the prenup may be unenforceable. Some conditions that may be considered duress include announcing the desire for a prenup right before the wedding and making the wedding contingent upon the prenup, or pressuring a spouse to sign when they are under the influence of alcohol or drugs.


IL divorce lawyerEngagement - and the sparkling, expensive piece of jewelry that typically accompanies it - is the subject of many romantic movies and books. The internet is replete with articles detailing exactly how much a man can expect to spend on an engagement ring, and in a new marriage, a ring is often a couple’s most valuable asset.

Unfortunately, not all relationships end up as happy and hopeful as the moment of engagement. When an engaged couple breaks off the engagement or a married couple decides to get divorced, there are often questions about what happens to the engagement ring or other gifts couples have purchased for each other that might be considered marital property.

What Happens to the Engagement Ring if We Do Not Get Married?

The fate of an engagement ring depends on who broke off the engagement, but generally, it must be returned. Illinois law has determined that if the recipient of the ring breaks off the engagement, she must return the ring. Likewise, if a couple mutually ends the relationship, the ring must be returned.

If the person who proposed breaks off the engagement, Illinois law is less clear. The majority consensus is that the recipient may keep the ring if the giver ends the engagement.

Do I Have to Give Back the Engagement Ring if We Get Divorced?

Because a ring is a gift given in anticipation of marriage, once the marriage has taken place the ring belongs to the recipient as his or her exclusive property. This means it is usually not considered marital property and is not subject to division in the event of a divorce.


IL family lawyerSince 2014, same-sex marriage has been legal in Illinois. This means that same-sex married couples have the same rights and benefits under Illinois law as opposite-sex married couples, and it also means that they must go through the same process to get a divorce. However, many same-sex couples in Illinois are in civil unions rather than marriages, whether because of a personal choice or because their union began before same-sex marriage was legal. If you are in a civil union with your partner, you may wonder what will happen if the relationship fails and you wish to dissolve the union.

Property Division and Maintenance in Civil Union Dissolution

According to Illinois law, the sections of the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act regarding the divorce process also apply to the dissolution of a civil union. In part, this means that both partners have a right to most forms of property, assets, and debts that were acquired during the union, including the home, bank accounts, retirement accounts, and more. These assets and debts will need to be distributed fairly between partners based on the same criteria used in the division of marital assets.

The dissolution of a civil union can also include an order for maintenance or alimony if it is necessary to ensure a fair resolution. This means that the partner with greater income and assets could be ordered to make payments to the partner who needs help supporting themself. Keep in mind that maintenance obligations end not only if the receiving partner gets married, but also if they enter into a new civil union or even start living with a new partner.

Child-Related Issues

When a civil union is dissolved, issues like the allocation of parental responsibilities and parenting time may also be involved, provided that both partners are considered to be the children’s legal parents under Illinois law. Fortunately, Illinois treats marriages and civil unions the same with regard to the presumption of parentage. This means that if the child was born to one of the parents during the civil union, both parents will be presumed to have parental rights. The same can be true if the civil union started after the child’s birth if both partners are listed on the child’s birth certificate, though this can make matters more complicated. In this case, pursuing a stepparent or second-parent adoption can better ensure that both partners’ rights are protected if the civil union ends.

Contact a Kane County Family Law Attorney

If you want to dissolve your civil union, you need an attorney who has experience with the unique aspects of these cases. Our St. Charles, IL family lawyers at Shaw Sanders, P.C. will help you understand and protect your parental and property rights. For a free consultation, contact our office today by calling 630-584-5550.


Il family lawyerDomestic violence does not always involve physical harm like punching and slapping. Emotional and psychological abuse can often be just as harmful. An abuse victim may be psychologically manipulated in such a way that he or she fears leaving the abusive situation or even blames himself or herself for the abuse. Gaslighting is a form of psychological manipulation that some abusive people use to manipulate and control their victims.

Controlling a Victim Through Deceit

The term “gaslighting” refers to a 1944 movie starring Ingrid Bergman called Gaslight. The film centers on a manipulative husband’s attempts to undermine his wife by making her question her sanity. One of the tactics used by the husband to make his wife think she is going crazy is dimming and brightening the gaslights. The term has since become a catch-all term for psychological manipulation used to maintain control or power over a victim.

Examples of Gaslighting in a Toxic Relationship

Gaslighting can take many forms. An individual may use the tactic to avoid being caught in a lie or to make the victim question his or her version of a past event. A person who is using gaslighting to manipulate you may:

  • Consistently accuse you of misremembering conversations and events
  • Deny actions or remarks that you are sure actually occurred
  • Pretend to forget things that you told him or her
  • Disregard your feelings
  • Tell you that you are “crazy” or overacting
  • Prevent you from seeing friends and family
  • Discourage you from seeking healthcare services or psychological counseling

Gaslighting is Sometimes a Sign of Abuse

Gaslighting is often a sign of an abusive relationship. If you have been the victim of abuse and the perpetrator is a former or current romantic partner, household member, or family member, you are not alone. Domestic violence affects the lives of millions of Americans. In Illinois, there are legal protections that can help you avoid further abuse. An Emergency Order of Protection (EOP) is available without the abuser’s knowledge. The order may require the abusive person to stay a certain distance away from you and your children, temporarily move out of your shared home, surrender firearms, and cease contacting you.

Contact a Kane County Family Lawyer

If you are the victim of threats, control, manipulation, harassment, intimidation, or abuse at the hands of a spouse or family member, you do not have to tolerate this treatment. For help getting an order of protection, divorcing an abusive spouse, or other family law needs, contact a St. Charles family law attorney at Shaw Sanders, P.C. Call us at 630-584-5550 for a free, confidential consultation.


IL divorce lawyerDomestic violence is a hidden epidemic in Illinois and throughout the country. Millions of men and women suffer silently in abusive marriages because they are unaware of the resources they have at their disposal. In fact, the Illinois Coalition Against Domestic Violence served over 45,000 adults and nearly 9,000 children in the year 2019 alone. If you are ready to leave an abusive marriage, you should know that there are several steps you can take to protect yourself and your children.

Protecting Yourself and Documenting the Abuse or Harassment

In Illinois, what are often referred to as “restraining orders” are called orders of protection. An order of protection is a court order that prohibits an abusive person from further abuse or harassment. If the subject of the order, called the respondent, violates any of the terms of the protection order, he or she may be arrested and charged with a criminal offense. Furthermore, a protection order serves as a crucial record of the abuser’s actions that will be very important during any subsequent divorce or child custody cases.

Prohibiting your Spouse from Coming Near You

An emergency order of protection (EOP) is often issued on the same day on which it is requested. You do not have to wait to attend a hearing with your spouse in order to get an EOP. You must simply fill out the proper form and file it with the circuit clerk at your county courthouse. You will then attend a hearing and answer any questions the judge has about your request for protection. Your spouse does not have to know about the hearing.

The EOP may:

  • Prohibit your spouse from coming to your work or your children’s school
  • Force him or her to surrender firearms
  • Require your spouse to move out of your house
  • Prevent your spouse from contacting you or your children

An EOP lasts 10 days, however, you may be able to get a plenary order of protection if you require a longer protection period.


Recent Blog Posts



Contact Us

How Can We Help?

NOTE: Fields with a * indicate a required field.