Setting up a Prenuptial Agreement in Illinois
DuPage County Divorce Lawyers
There are two primary misconceptions when it comes to prenuptial agreements: 1) that they only apply in high-value marriages, and 2) that they only serve a purpose in the event of a divorce down the road. While a high-asset marriage and the possibility of divorce are two valid and common reasons for entering prenuptial agreements, most couples can benefit from entering a prenuptial agreement regardless of financial status or likelihood of divorce. Crafting a comprehensive and binding prenuptial agreement will require knowledgeable attorneys to represent you and your interests.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
When a couple decides to get married, the income, assets, and property they receive during the course of the marriage all become “marital property.” Accounts are combined, shared, and utilized by both parties. Without a prenuptial agreement, this marital property is all subject to equitable division and may be used to partially pay spousal maintenance in the event of a divorce or legal separation. The prenuptial agreement aims to separate non-marital property from marital property.
A prenuptial agreement is a contract that becomes effective upon marriage. Within the prenuptial agreement, a person identifies certain properties as either marital or non-marital. One function of a prenuptial agreement is to protect pre-marital assets. One spouse may have substantial pre-marital assets that he wants to protect against claims by the other spouse in the event that he dies or the couple decides to divorce. Though most everything obtained during the course of the marriage will still be considered marital property, and thus subject to equitable division upon the couple’s divorce, the pre-marital assets can be protected from the other spouse.
High Asset Divorce/Death
There are certain instances where a prenuptial agreement is very necessary to protect your assets. These circumstances may include:
- you have children from a prior marriage or relationship whom you would want a share of your estate in the event of your death (consider: inheritance);
- If you own or have equity in a business or a significant stake in a company via stocks, bonds, or other assets;
- If you have reason to expect a large inheritance or gift in the future (though these monetary gains are usually exempt from being considered “marital property”); or
- If you have a specific intent as to where you want your assets to go in the event of your death/divorce.
A well-drafted prenuptial agreement can address what happens if circumstances change during the marriage as well. For example, if you happen to obtain additional equity in a company, you can include this possibility in your agreement to protect the asset from a legal claim post-death or divorce. Prenuptial agreements can be as broad or narrow as your unique situation requires.
Limitations of Prenuptial Agreements
While prenuptial agreements can be beneficial to nearly any marrying couple, it is important to consider the emotional effect entering this type of agreement may have on the relationship. Prenuptial agreements are ideal for individuals who want to protect their property prior to entering a marriage. If you are marrying later in life and you already have significant assets or have children from previous relationships, then a prenuptial agreement may be beneficial to you. If you are a couple with an income disparity, you may want to consider a prenuptial agreement to limit spousal support.
Prenuptial agreements can limit the amount of spousal maintenance that other spouse may obtain if the couple divorces. Without proper representation, you may inadvertently agree to give up money that would have otherwise had a legal right to upon divorce. One spouse may come out ahead, so to speak, by taking advantage of the agreeing spouse. Though this advantage may not be intentional, it can leave the party bringing less into the marriage feeling less optimistic about the marriage’s future and may have an adverse effect on the relationship. Though no one wants to think that impropriety begins before marriage even begins, understanding the functions, limitations, and reasons for entering (or not entering) prenuptial agreements can greatly assist couples in making the right decisions for their future.
DuPage County Prenuptial Agreement Attorneys
If you are planning on getting married, it is important to at least consider entering a prenuptial agreement with your soon-to-be spouse. Whether you are the individual that wishes to have your assets protected or if you are the one who is being limited access to these assets, you have the right to legal representation and guidance during this process before making a decision. At Mulyk Laho Law, LLC, our skilled DuPage County family law attorneys can help you make the decision that is best for you and your relationship. Contact us to learn about your legal options and how to best protect your assets in the future.