What you need to know about Illinois premarital agreements

Prenuptial agreements can be useful, positive tools used in a successful marriage, but a lawyer should always be consulted before entering into one.

In today's fast-paced information age, marriage is being transformed. A prenuptial agreement, which can be a wise financial planning tool and a way to resolve potentially difficult future issues before they become problematic, has lost its stigma as being distasteful or implying partners do not trust each other.

The Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act

Many people find premarital agreements reassuring and actually facilitate their commitment to enter into a marriage without fear of losing everything should things fall apart. Our highly skilled matrimonial attorneys draft such agreements, which protect one's assets or income from being unwittingly lost to a person who goes into a marriage with bad intent and it can prevent that person from getting attorney's fees in the event of a divorce.

To be valid and upheld by an Illinois court, the premarital agreement must be written and signed by both partners, taking effect upon marriage. It does not require consideration to be enforceable, meaning in essence that, in contrast to basic business contracts, for example, each party does not have to give something up. A prenup could put all the duties on one party and still be binding.

Terms

Almost anything can be the subject of the agreement, except:

  • Child support
  • Any matter that violates public policy
  • Anything that violates a criminal law that carries a criminal penalty

While anything regarding "personal rights and obligations" may be included, the majority of the provisions in the statute deal with a very wide variety of property rights, including rights concerning maintenance and other property if they should divorce or separate, one of them dies or any other event of their choice happens or does not happen.

Enforceability

The Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act includes some provisions that protect parties to prenups in certain situations that could be grossly unfair or harmful. An agreement is not enforceable if the party who does not want it enforced proves:

  • He or she did not sign it voluntarily.
  • It was unconscionable (shockingly unfair) when executed and before signing, he or she was not given reasonable disclosure of the property and debt of the other party, did not voluntarily and in writing waive the right to that disclosure and did not have or could not reasonably have had enough understanding of the other party's property and debts.

To ensure a premarital agreement is upheld and drafted correctly, it must be prepared and negotiated by a very skilled family law attorney. The highly experienced lawyers at The Law Offices of Jeffery M. Leving, Ltd., with offices in downtown Chicago represent clients throughout the greater Chicagoland area, across the State of Illinois and nationwide in all matters regarding premarital agreements, including negotiation, drafting, review and litigation. They also provide advice and representation regarding postmarital and cohabitation agreements.