Prenuptial agreements, (premarital agreements) or “prenups” as they are often colloquially referred to, are a written contract entered into by two parties before they get married. They act as proactive measures should the marriage end up dissolving in a divorce. In addition, they dictate the rights of each party in terms of both joint and individual property and finances, as well as custody of any children and the creation of child support orders.
Prenuptial agreements can also help in the event of a spousal death if other terms and agreements have not been put in place regarding the division of finances and property.
If you are contemplating getting a prenup to secure your existing assets you will need the best legal representation possible. Our legal team can assist you by answering all of your questions in a free initial consultation. We serve Cook County, Chicago, and the surrounding areas.
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Why Do I Need a Prenuptial Agreement?
While prenuptial agreements often seem counter-intuitive to prospective newlyweds who firmly believe they’ll spend the rest of their lives together, they are actually an incredibly responsible and forward-thinking way to ensure the best future for all parties involved. Statistically, not all marriages will last. The parties involved often have no way of knowing how long their marriage will last going into the marriage.
Related: What is a prenup?
If we look at statistics, it is only natural to want some protection should the marriage end up dissolving. With prenuptial agreements, you can enter into a marriage with minimal risk and maximum protection. Protecting ones personal assets with a premarital agreement can help you prevent any future legal issues you may face with your soon to be spouse.
Most parties involved in marriages will inevitably agree that a prenuptial agreement is a great option to protect their personal assets.
Prenuptial agreements became popular amongst the wealthy as a means to protect their assets against marriages where the other partner might be more after their money and property than their love. Eventually, however, prenuptial agreements achieved widespread popularity, even amongst couples that don’t have enough financial interest to justify a purely financial prenuptial agreement.
Agreements can be made to dictate much more than the allocation of finances and property, including custody of children, visitation of children, or any amount that must be paid in child support by either party after the dissolution of the marriage.
How Long Does It Take to Draft a Prenuptial Agreement?
Of course, how long it takes to draft your prenuptial agreement will be determined largely by the number of stipulations at play. This can be affected by the amount of money going into the prenuptial agreement, as well as the amount of property and the number of other terms that need to be included.
Proactively, prenuptial agreements should be at least casually discussed as soon as the marriage is discussed, oftentimes even before the engagement stage. The more open and honest couples are about their fears and requirements going into a marriage, the more amicable that marriage will be, and the more amicable divorce will be should it ever become a necessity. Divorce doesn’t have to be painful and with the proper legal guidance from a marital agreement lawyer, your existing asset will be secure.
In the case of divorce having a written document can be handy when property division and financial security come into play. Divorces can be timely, costly, and incredibly stressful. With a legal document in place, divorces go much more smoothly and there will be far fewer variables at play that could lead to a less-than-ideal outcome for either party.
How Much Does a Prenuptial Agreement Cost?
Prenuptial agreements will typically cost a few thousand dollars, including attorney fees for drafting the document and mediation. As well, there will be some fees involved in filing the prenuptial agreement with the courts.
While this may seem like an unnecessary expenditure, especially for couples who feel they will be together forever no matter what, this amount of money is going to be nothing compared to the hefty sums you will have to pay out to the courts, your attorneys, and each other in the event of a divorce.
For this reason, prenuptial agreements should be seen as a necessary expense in the larger process that is a marriage. It will save you both time and money in the long run should divorce proceedings ever need to occur.
Prenuptial Vs Postnuptial Agreements
A prenuptial agreement starts your marriage on the right foot, legally and financially, as a contract that both of you must abide by. A postnuptial agreement provides the foundation for the end of your marriage and can save time, money, energy, and emotion in discussions that finalize ownership of assets and property.
Matters involving children such as custody and support cannot be determined by a prenuptial agreement. Postnuptial agreements (which are drafted and established after marriage, but serve the same purpose as prenuptial agreements) can be complex in Illinois and it is recommended that you speak to experienced counsel to explore your options.
How Do Prenuptial Agreements Work with State Laws?
Without a prenuptial agreement, the division of property, finances, and custody will be up to the discretion of the state that you are living in. A prenuptial agreement, then, will supersede these judgments proactively, serving as the ultimate judge in any divorce proceedings.
According to the state of Illinois, prenuptial agreements do not matter unless they are formally written and signed by both parties involved in the marriage. Oral agreements and other non-formal agreements will not stand, and will not supersede the judgments of the state. However, should the terms put forth in the prenuptial agreement be either too unclear to enforce or otherwise violating some kind of state policy, they will likely not be able to be put into effect.
For instance, if the stipulations of the prenuptial agreement will negatively affect the safety of any children involved in the eyes of the judge, those stipulations will not be able to be enforced. In some cases, the entire prenuptial agreement may be thrown out simply for having one stipulation that is unclear or impossible to enforce.
For this reason, it is pertinent that you have properly experienced legal counsel on hand when drafting your prenuptial agreement. Wording can be very important, and stipulations need to be expressed as explicitly as possible so as to avoid any ambiguity in enforcing them. As well, knowing when a stipulation may appear unfavorably in the eyes of a judge is a must when drafting the document.
Contact Our Chicago Family Law Attorneys Today
As you can see, prenuptial agreements are not only healthy documents to enter into before marriage, but they should be seen as a necessity for the best interests of all parties involved. Our family law firm has years of experience in drafting prenuptial agreements.
We can work with you and all other parties to draft the clearest and most protective prenuptial agreement, that way everyone can feel secure and protected going into their new marriage.