Premarital and Prenuptial Agreements

A premarital agreement, also known as a prenuptial agreement, allows for an efficient distribution of assets belonging to the parties and to the marriage. A premarital agreement typically only takes effect in the unfortunate event of divorce or death.

It is helpful to think of premarital agreements like health insurance. Just as buying health insurance does not indicate that a person expects to become ill, entering into a prenuptial agreement does not indicate that a person expects his or her marriage to fail. Like health insurance, a prenuptial agreement signifies that, should an unfortunate event occur, the parties are prepared and have planned to protect themselves from further harm.

Division of property is often the most expensive part of any divorce. A premarital agreement allows parties to decide ahead of time how their assets (whether acquired before or during the marriage) will be distributed and will protect the parties’ much needed resources as they transition into separate homes. A premarital agreement is not only for affluent individuals; it’s a valuable device for anyone who would rather spend a little money now as a preventive measure to potentially save thousands of dollars in future attorneys’ fees.

Under Illinois Law, a premarital agreement requires full disclosure of each party’s property and financial obligations. The mandatory disclosure allows each party to make an informed decision regarding the property rights he or she is relinquishing in the event of divorce. Additionally, the courts will not enforce a prenuptial agreement without carefully scrutinizing the terms and taking into consideration events that could not have been foreseen at the time the parties entered into the agreement.

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