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Kane County family law attorneysThe Millennial generation certainly has its own ideas about marriage, and, in many ways, they are not like those of their parents. An interesting shift is taking place in the way younger people perceive marriage and its importance. Throughout the last 60 years, several trends have arisen. People, in general, are waiting longer to get married, divorce is more common, and couples are having fewer children. During the 1950s, 75 percent of women in their early 20s were married whereas only 50 percent are now.

Repeating History

It is true that young people are waiting longer to get married and having fewer children, however, the trend we are experiencing today with is not unlike the time before the post-war baby boom. The average age at which couples get married today is only slightly higher than the average age of those in the late 19th and early 20th centuries.

What has changed since the 50s? Over the last several decades, there has been a dramatic shift in many aspects of American society. Women are more invested in their careers, there is less pressure to have a traditional family, and debt from student loans are all factors that contribute to the postponement of marriage. Furthermore, it is more socially acceptable to have children before getting married than it was during the much more conservative 1950s.

real estate, prenuptial agreement, Illinois family law attorneyAs the average age of those entering marriage for the first time continues to rise, along with the record rate of remarriage around the country, more and more couples are faced with increasingly complicated property ownership situation. In previous generations, an average couple would pursue marriage shortly after high school or college, rent a home for a short time, then move onto home ownership as they build their marital estate together. Of course, that was not the case for every couple, but for many, such a progression was somewhat expected.

Today, however, individuals are approaching marriage altogether differently. Many have already had years to build wealth, start and sell businesses, and accumulate assets. In fact, it is not uncommon for both halves of a married couple to each own their own homes prior to getting married. However, such a scenario presents a number of options—and a number of challenges—for couple pursuing marriage and may a prenuptial agreement may be necessary to prevent future problems.

Real Estate Possibilities

prenuptial agreement, marriage, Illinois family lawyerA prenuptial agreement is a legal document that defines a private agreement made by two people who intend to legally marry. These types of agreements are commonly used to predetermine how the new couple’s estate will be distributed if a divorce or death occurs. In the event that divorce does occur and no prenuptial agreement exists, the couple’s estate will be distributed according to the the Illinois state laws governing the dissolution of marriage.

What Can a Prenuptial Agreement Cover?

As a private agreement, a prenuptial agreement can be highly customized to fit the unique needs of the couple in question. The prenuptial can address any number of topics, including issues such as pre-existing debt of one or both partners, asset allocation, and spousal maintenance. There are no minimum or uniform requirements that must be included.

prenuptial agreement, marriage, Kane County Divorce LawyerMany people hear the term “prenuptial agreement” and immediately think of celebrities or other famous wealthy individuals. The perception is often that such high net-worth people create prenuptial agreements in order to protect their assets and prepare themselves for an inevitable future divorce. While it is certainly true that these types of agreements can be very useful in the event of a divorce, their true strength lies in the ability to help any couple – not just the super-rich – establish security in their marriage that may even reduce the likelihood of divorce.

Marriage is a Legal Contract

While the current cultural view of marital relationships is that they are an expression of romantic love and familial commitment, the legal view is quite different. The law, of course, recognizes the familial commitment, but in the seven parts and hundreds of pages that comprise the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act, there is not a single reference to or use of the word “love.” As far as the law is concerned, marriage represents a type of contract between two parties, entered willingly and without coercion. Obviously, romantic love is the basis for a vast majority of marriages in this country, and addressing the contractual aspect from the beginning can allow couples to focus on the personal side of a healthy relationship.

postnup, Illinois divorce, Kane County Family LawIt is very common today to hear about couples, particularly those who are very wealthy or celebrities, refusing to marry without a prenuptial agreement. For many, it is rather understandable, as most prenuptial agreements help delineate which assets may or may not become part of the marital property along with other possible considerations. One of the potential drawbacks to relying solely on a prenuptial agreement, however, is that, by definition, the agreement must be finalized prior to the marriage. Unforeseen issues and opportunities that may develop over the course of the relationship may be better dealt with by means of a postnuptial agreement instead.

A postnuptial agreement is a cooperative effort between spouses to formally outline the responsibilities and obligations of each party. It is established after the marriage, and in some cases, many years after the beginning of the marriage. Like most prenuptial agreements, a postnuptial agreement can help a couple prepare in the event of divorce, but more than that, such an agreement can contribute to a more fulfilling marital situation.

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