Saying “I Do”
When a couple comes together in marriage, they bring together their finances. This includes both their past assets and their past liabilities. Traditionally, prenuptial or premarital agreements were entered into as a means to protect a wealthy spouse from losing a significant part of his or her fortune, should the marriage end in divorce. However, there are other very important reasons why entering into a prenuptial agreement makes sense. These reasons have evolved over time based on the changing needs of modern day life.
Under the Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, a premarital agreement is an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage. It goes into effect upon marriage. It must be in writing and signed by both parties. After the couple is married, they can amend or revoke the agreement only by a written agreement signed by both parties. Generally, agreements are enforceable by the courts unless the party who is contesting it can prove such claims as it was involuntarily obtained, the terms were not fair and reasonable, or it would create an undue hardship on him or her.
A New Way to View a Prenuptial Agreement
There is a trend to eliminate the idea that a prenuptial agreement should be viewed as a financial plan for when things go wrong. Instead, it should be viewed as a plan for the future.
A prenuptial agreement can serve as a tool for the couple to map out their future finances to adapt to the anticipated and unanticipated changes that come with marriage. Couples can anticipate how to deal with one spouse going back to school or staying at home with a small child, or even what to do if a spouse is laid off of work. It may also be a way to plan out future savings or determine how to plan for retirement.
A benefit of having a prenuptial agreement, even if it is never needed, is getting the issues out on the table before the wedding. There are marriages in which partners never disclose pre-existing debts, bankruptcies, child support obligations, or property. By getting full disclosure up-front, the parties can have realistic expectations of how their married lives will be and what future obligations they need to meet.
Prenuptial agreements can be useful tools for parties to clarify what their financial rights and obligations are, especially if they own property together once married. They can protect one spouse from any obligations to the pre-existing debts of another spouse. They also allow a spouse who has children from a prior marriage to pass separate property onto those children upon his or her death. Finally, prenuptial agreements can be helpful to prevent future fighting should the couple divorce because all of the terms of property division and spousal and child support are already laid out in a pre-existing agreement.
Crafting a prenuptial agreement with your future spouse can help you avoid problems in the event of a divorce. If you need help creating a prenuptial agreement, do not hesitate to contact an experienced Wheaton family law attorney at Sullivan Taylor, Gumina & Palmer, P.C.