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IL family lawyerIn a previous blog, we discussed the many benefits that an engaged couple can gain from signing a prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement or “prenup” protects each spouse’s financial interests and dictates how property division and other issues will be managed in the event of divorce. Many couples find that the act of creating the prenuptial agreement itself is also hugely beneficial to their marriage. When spouses understand their financial rights and responsibilities prior to marriage, they may be less likely to get into arguments about money in the future. Prenups must be written in a way that meets Illinois state guidelines. There are many problems that can cause a prenuptial agreement to be declared invalid.

Each Spouse Must Be Transparent About His or Her Finances

A prenuptial agreement must include a full account of each spouse’s property and debt. Before decisions can be made about how property should be divided in the event of divorce, the spouses must fully understand each other’s financial circumstances. If a spouse does not disclose all of his or her property and debt, the decisions made in the prenup will be based on incomplete information. If it is discovered that a spouse was not honest about finances during the creation of the prenuptial agreement, the document may be considered invalid during divorce proceedings. This is just one of many reasons it is so important to have a qualified family law attorney review any prenuptial or premarital agreement you create with a soon-to-be spouse.

What a Premarital Agreement Cannot Include

A prenuptial agreement cannot include any provisions which dictate how child custody or child support is managed. These are separate issues that are determined by Illinois statute during a divorce. Prenuptial agreements also cannot contain “unconscionable provisions.” These include provisions that are grossly unfair or unreasonable. For example, a provision that assigned all of the marital property to one spouse and left the other with nothing would likely not be enforced by the court. Furthermore, a prenuptial agreement may not be signed under duress. If a spouse was tricked, forced, or coerced into signing a prenup, the document may be thrown out entirely. Spouses must also have enough time to contemplate the terms of a prenuptial agreement. A prenup that is handed to a spouse mere hours before the wedding ceremony would almost certainly be considered invalid.

Contact a St Charles. Family Law Attorney

For help drafting a prenuptial agreement or other family law needs, speak with a knowledgeable Kane County family law attorney from Shaw Family Law. Schedule a free, confidential consultation by calling us today at 630-584-5550.

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IL divorce lawyerPrenuptial agreements, also called premarital agreements or “prenups,” are some of the most misunderstood legal documents in all of family law. The media often presents prenuptial agreements in a negative light. Television shows and movies can also add to the confusion and misinformation surrounding prenuptial agreements. The truth is that a prenuptial agreement can benefit both members of a marriage in a wide variety of ways.

Prenups Protect the Financial Interests of Both Spouses

The main purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to determine in advance how property and debt would be divided if the couple gets a divorce. Without a prenuptial agreement, assets are divided according to equitable distribution rules in Illinois. It is very possible that one or both spouses will not end up with the property that they wanted when the court makes property division decisions on behalf of the spouses.

  • A prenuptial agreement is especially important if:
  • There is a large difference in the spouses’ income or assets.
  • Either spouse has substantial debt.
  • The spouses have a blended family.
  • One of the spouses owns their own business.
  • One of the spouses has or plans to have long-term investments, vesting opportunities, or stock options from their employer.

In addition to financial protections, many couples find that the process of creating a prenuptial agreement itself is hugely beneficial. As part of drafting a prenup, you and your partner will need to list your assets and debts as well as make decisions about how finances will be managed during the marriage. Having an open dialogue about finances before the marriage can help reduce marital conflict in the future.

Getting a Prenuptial Agreement Does Not Mean You Believe the Marriage Will Fail

The number one falsehood about prenuptial agreements is that signing one means you have doubts about the success of the marriage. Some people falsely assume that a person would only get a premarital agreement if they do not trust their partner. This is simply not true. Just as getting car insurance does not increase your chances of getting into a car accident, getting a prenuptial agreement does not increase your chances of getting a divorce. Most couples enter into a prenuptial agreement because they take their financial responsibilities seriously and understand that all marriages have a possibility of ending. It is better to have a prenuptial agreement in place and not ever need it than to need one and not have it.

Contact a Kane County Family Law Attorney

To learn more about how a prenuptial agreement can benefit you and your partner or for other family law needs, contact Shaw Family Law, P.C. Schedule a free, confidential consultation with an experienced St. Charles family lawyer by calling our office today at 630-584-5550.

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Posted on in Divorce

IL ivorce lawyerPrenuptial and postnuptial agreements have become much more common in today’s society. Many attribute this to the median age at which most couples get married. Since 1990, the average age for marriage has risen from 26 to 29 for men and 23 to 27 for women. Rather than getting married right out of high school or college, as most people did in the 20th century, many couples opt to get married later in life. Not only does this add a level of age maturity to each spouse, but it also allows for more capital to be built up by each individual before getting married. As a result, many couples have decided to sign prenuptial or postnuptial agreements to better protect themselves in their marriage.

What Makes Up the Agreement?

A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is a legally binding contract that states the division of assets between each spouse. This includes their finances coming into the marriage, what property each spouse has, and how they would split their home in case of a divorce. One of the main aspects missing from a prenup and postnup is child custody. While it is clearly impossible to plan this ahead of marriage if a couple does not have children yet, it is also illegal to do so. Child custody cannot be determined by the parents. This decision is entirely up to the court.

Common Reasons for the Contract

While getting married at an older age does have a correlation with signing a pre- or post-nuptial agreement, there are various other reasons why couples decide to choose the legally safe route.:

  • A Previous Marriage - For couples who have been married before and will be bringing previous “baggage” into the marriage, a legal agreement is often signed as a precautionary measure.
  • Wealth/Debt Division - Many spouses come from different economic statuses. This can mean one person has a substantial amount of wealth or debt. In cases such as these, many couples will decide that a prenup or postnup is the best decision.
  • Only One Spouse Is Working - In case of a future divorce, some couples decide to have a safety net in place for the non-working spouse. Making this decision before or right after getting married can eliminate hashing things out if divorce is in their future and emotions run high.

Contact an Illinois Attorney for Legal Assistance

Signing a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is a good way to protect you and your spouse in the future. If you have decided to take these precautionary measures, a skilled marital agreement attorney is crucial to best divide and protect your assets. Contact our Kane County prenuptial and postnuptial attorneys for a free consultation at 630-584-5550 to help you and your spouse decide what is best for your future.

 

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Illinois divorce lawyerUnder some states’ laws, individuals may waive their right to seek spousal maintenance in their divorces. When an individual or couple chooses to waive this right, they typically include it in their prenuptial agreement. Illinois is not one of these states. In Illinois, spousal maintenance is a right just like child support is a right. However, there are limits to this right. Unless the couple agrees to it, a judge cannot order unallocated spousal maintenance after their divorce. In other words, a judge must include a specific dollar figure in a couple’s spousal maintenance order.

How Is Spousal Maintenance Determined in Illinois?

On January 1, 2015, Illinois’ current spousal maintenance law went into effect. This formula replaced the older way of determining spousal maintenance, which was a set of factors that courts could consider at their discretion to determine an appropriate maintenance amount and period of time over which it would be paid. Now, spousal maintenance is calculated according to a formula that takes both partners’ gross incomes and specific percentages of each to determine an appropriate maintenance amount, not unlike Illinois’ child support formula. The spousal maintenance formula is as follows:

Thirty percent of the higher earning spouse’s annual income minus 20 percent of the lower-earning spouse’s annual income equals the annual maintenance amount.

This formula is not applied to all cases. When a couple’s combined income is $250,000 per year or higher, the court may deviate from the formula to determine an appropriate maintenance amount. If the difference between the figures for the partners used in the formula plus the recipient’s gross income is more than 40 percent of the couple’s combined income, the maintenance amount is reduced to put it at 40 percent of their combined income.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_prenup.jpgAlthough the subject of prenuptial agreements spark ongoing controversy, the reality is such agreements can offer a range of benefits for both parties involved, should a divorce ever take place. When both parties are open and willing to discuss the potential advantages of arranging a prenup, the outcome can bring great peace of mind and provide a clear, organized game plan in the event the marriage comes to an end.

Key Areas to Address

The purpose of a prenup is to prepare for the management and protection of your assets, especially in the event that you and your spouse have difficulty agreeing on the division of those assets during a divorce. Due to the important nature of the agreement, it is crucial to identify which areas require attention as you begin the process of creating the contract. Some areas every couple needs to address include the following:

Debts - The reason for talking about debts with your future spouse is twofold; you both need to know about any existing financial obligations, and you both will also benefit from being transparent regarding any debts that are in your name before you tie the knot. Make a list of everything, including personal and bank-acquired loans, as well as any debts that may currently be in collections.

Assets - Assets are just as important to discuss as debts, as the subject of marital property can be a touchy one when a marriage doesn’t work out. You need to be clear on what you will do with any property or assets you acquire once you both are married. Should you divorce, will you split those belongings 50/50? If not, discuss any alternative options.

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