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Geneva family law attorneysGetting engaged to be married is a joyous time for any couple. In the midst of sharing pictures of the ring, scouting out locations for the wedding, and celebrating with friends and family, couples are also faced with a hard choice: Should they create a prenuptial agreement?

A prenuptial agreement, also called a prenup or premarital agreement, is a legally-binding agreement that a couple signs before getting married in order to protect each spouse's financial interests. Some people incorrectly assume that prenuptial agreements are only appropriate for celebrities, the extremely wealthy, and those couples who do not think their marriage will last.

Plan for the Worst

Kane County family law attorneyMany people are familiar with prenuptial agreements,or “prenups," and some of their pros and cons. However, what most do not know is that they can actually be quite complex and may include much more than standard asset division terms. They are also not as ironclad as popular culture paints them to be. It is imperative that before you enter into a prenuptial agreement, you should have a good understanding of exactly how they work.

What to Include and Leave Out

The are two common reasons why a couple may choose to into a prenup: to protect one spouse from the consequences of the other’s debt or to ensure that provisions are made for the children of a previous marriage. Inheritance laws in most states immediately default to a person’s children from their current marriage, so if there was a promise, for example, to save a personal item for a child of one’s first marriage, it can be advantageous to note that in a prenup. Prenuptial agreements are legally binding unless it can be proven that the agreement is unenforceable.

prenuptial agreement, Geneva family law attorneyEvery year, thousands of couples throughout Illinois formally legalize their relationship through the institution of marriage. As the average age of first marriage continues to rise, along with the increasing rate of remarriage, prenuptial agreements are also becoming more common than ever. In many ways, this makes sense, as today’s single men and women have had more time to earn money and accumulate assets than in generations where younger marriage was prevalent. Remarriage, of course, presents its own challenges, including children from a previous relationship and increased focus on retirement and estate planning, and prenuptial agreements are advisable for these types of situations as well.

Agreements Regarding Maintenance

Spousal maintenance, or alimony, as it is sometimes called, is one of the most common issues addressed in a prenuptial agreement. A couple may agree, before ever getting married, that maintenance either should or should not be paid in the event of a divorce. They may also address criteria under which maintenance would be required—such as a so-called lifestyle clause or an infidelity penalty clause. Should the couple get divorced, the court presiding over the proceedings is required to take into account any valid agreement between the parties, including prenuptial agreements that address spousal maintenance.

prenuptial agreements in illinois, Kane County divorce lawyerDiscussing a prenuptial agreement with your soon-to-be spouse is never easy. However, as thousands of divorcees will attest, this contract can protect your personal and financial interests. Although a prenup can protect certain assets, the contract does have limits. Some aspects in a divorce or family law case cannot be part of a prenuptial agreement.

Illegal Terms

According to Illinois law, you may not include any illegal obligations in your prenuptial agreement. These can range from requiring your spouse to commit an unlawful act to listing the division of prohibited possessions, such as drugs. These terms may render the entire document invalid.

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.

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