There’s a common misconception that prenuptial agreements are only for rich people who don’t expect their marriages to last. In reality, prenuptial agreements often strengthen marriages because they provide clarity and help couples understand their mutual expectations and responsibilities.
Prenuptial agreements can be particularly helpful for individuals with obligations from prior marriages, or in situations where members of a couple are used to exercising financial independence. A family law attorney could explain some of the benefits for your particular situation, but here’s an overview of how prenuptial agreements work in Illinois.
Creating a Prenuptial Agreement
A prenuptial agreement is a contract between two people who plan to marry, and it must be in writing to be enforceable. Both spouses must sign the agreement. If the marriage never takes place, then the agreement has no effect—it only operates once the couple is married.
Before drafting the terms and signing the agreement, both parties are expected to make full financial disclosure to each other. They should discuss any debts they owe, what they receive in income from investments as well as work, and all property they own. It is possible to skip this step before creating a prenuptial agreement, but most family law attorneys in Illinois would advise clients not to and only where the parties have knowledge of each other’s assets.
The disclosure process is often one of the most valuable learning experiences shared in preparation for marriage. If one or both parties choose to waive their right to receive full financial disclosure from the other, they must put that waiver in writing as part of the agreement.
Topics That Can Be Included in a Prenuptial Agreement in Illinois
A prenuptial agreement can address how a couple will handle certain matters during the marriage, as well as what will happen when the marriage ends through death or divorce. A family law attorney could help review your circumstances and concerns and create a custom agreement to address your specific interests.
Prenuptial agreements commonly include issues such as:
- The right to buy, sell or use certain property
- What happens to specific property when one party dies or if the couple divorces
- Ownership rights regarding life insurance policies
- Creating a will or trust to carry out provisions
- The payment of spousal maintenance if a couple divorces
Other terms may be included as well, so long as they do not violate Illinois public policy.
Issues that cannot be covered in a prenuptial agreement include those involving child custody or support for children a couple has together. These issues would be addressed at the time a couple separates or divorces, and they will be based on the best interests of the child rather than the parents’ desires.
Talk to a Family Law Attorney to Learn How a Prenuptial Agreement Could Strengthen Your Marriage
Even if divorce never enters the scene, a prenuptial agreement can have tremendous benefits for a married couple. In addition to helping couples develop a plan for their financial situation and understand their obligations, a prenuptial agreement can help protect property and reduce concerns for the future. To learn more about the benefits a prenuptial agreement could provide in your situation, contact the experienced legal advisors at Family Law Solutions, P.C. today.