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What Are You Not Allowed to Do in a Prenuptial Agreement?A prenuptial agreement is a useful document to have on hand if you and your spouse ever divorce. Though preparing for a hypothetical divorce seems awkward, it can be easier to come to an agreement now on how to divide some assets than it would be during a divorce, when you may feel less inclined to cooperate. The prenuptial agreement creates a framework for a divorce agreement, which would save you some time during a divorce. However, there are limitations to what a prenuptial agreement is allowed to do in Illinois. If you create an agreement that breaks the state’s rules, then your agreement will be invalid once it comes time to use it. Here are three things you cannot do in a prenuptial agreement:

  1. Settle on Parental Responsibilities and Child Support: A prenuptial agreement cannot decide how you will allocate parental responsibilities or divide child support. The parenting plan in a divorce must serve the best interests of the children. You cannot know in advance what division of parenting time will be best for the children, especially if they are not even born yet. Illinois calculates child support using a formula based on both parents’ incomes. You cannot decide that one parent would pay less child support than what they are legally obligated to pay.
  2. Create Unjust Financial Terms: As an equitable division state, Illinois does not require divorcees to divide their marital properties exactly evenly. This gives you some flexibility in your prenuptial agreement if you want to protect assets from going to your spouse. However, the financial result of the agreement must be fair and equitable to both sides. A divorce court would not uphold a prenuptial agreement that unjustly divides marital properties to the point that one side seems to be taking advantage of the other. This extends to spousal maintenance. You can waive your claim to maintenance in the agreement, but a court will not enforce it if it would cause you unreasonable hardship.
  3. Incentivize Divorce: Many courts will reject a prenuptial agreement that seems to give a financial incentive for the parties to divorce. Basically, the courts do not want a prenuptial agreement to encourage people to divorce. Knowing that you would receive a financial windfall from your agreement could influence your decision on whether to divorce. It will be up to the court to judge whether your agreement violates this principle.

Contact a Kane County Family Law Attorney

You cannot predict the many ways that your financial circumstances could change during your marriage, which could affect how you view your prenuptial agreement. However, including conditions that violate Illinois law is certain to make the agreement invalid. A St. Charles, Illinois, family law lawyer at Goostree Law Group will make sure that your prenuptial agreement is fair and complies with the law. Schedule a free consultation by calling 630-584-4800.

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Is It Time to Update Your Prenuptial Agreement?A prenuptial agreement is a useful document to have in the unfortunate event that you ever decide to divorce. With all of the turmoil in a divorce, it can be a relief to have some of the negotiation work already complete. However, a prenup should not be a static agreement that you do not examine unless a divorce occurs. Your financial means and needs have changed since your marriage began. At worst, you may discover that your agreement is obsolete once it comes time to use it. You should periodically check your prenuptial agreement during your marriage and update it if necessary.

Division of Property

A prenuptial agreement can list which items will be included in your division of marital property and who will receive them. Many of the properties listed in your original prenuptial agreement are nonmarital properties because you owned them before your marriage. When modifying your agreement you can:

  • Add major properties that you have accumulated since the start of your marriage;
  • Remove properties that you no longer own; and
  • Update the value of the properties that were already in the agreement.

For instance, it is common for a spouse’s business to increase in value since the time when they created the agreement. The division of property in the agreement may now be unbalanced because of that change in value. The spouses can renegotiate whether they will share ownership of the business if they divorce or agree to give the other spouse more properties as compensation.

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Why a Prenuptial Agreement Is Worth the CostThere is a misconception amongst some newlyweds that a prenuptial agreement is not necessary unless you are rich. It is true that a prenuptial agreement is helpful when spouses have substantial assets. Those with fewer assets may believe that creating a prenuptial agreement is unnecessary or not worth the cost. However, you should not discount the benefits of having a prenuptial agreement, even if your premarital assets seem meager. In the event of a divorce, you may be thankful that you took the time to prepare one.

Need

People think of prenuptial agreements as a tool of the rich because they are most likely to hear about prenups in the media when celebrities get divorced. Owning valuable assets is only one reason to create a prenuptial agreement. Others include:

  • Identifying premarital assets;
  • Determining how to divide assets that may grow in value; and
  • Settling potential property disputes while you and your spouse have an amicable relationship.

It is common sense to want to know all of a person’s assets before you marry them. You should be suspicious if they refuse to divulge them. Some assets, such as a business, are likely to become more valuable in the future. If you created and are running the business, you may want to protect your ownership while also acknowledging that your spouse would deserve compensation for the value of your business. You could wait until a divorce to settle issues such as this, but your spouse may be less open to compromise during the divorce.

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The Problems with Lifestyle Clauses in Prenuptial AgreementsBecause of Illinois’ no-fault divorce law, couples can no longer punish each other for acts such as infidelity when filing for divorce. Previously, spouses may have accused each other of immoral behavior in order to avoid paying spousal maintenance or keep a greater share of the marital properties. Now, irreconcilable differences are the only reason that couples can cite for their divorce. Some couples are instead using prenuptial and postnuptial agreements to try to penalize a spouse’s behavior. A lifestyle clause sets rules for a marriage that will result in a financial penalty if either spouse breaks them. However, you should understand the potential problems of lifestyle clauses before you include one in your agreement.

Enforceability

Lifestyle clauses are relatively new, which means that there is little legal precedent for them in courts. The individual opinions of the judge may determine whether a court enforces the clause. Some judges may reject any provision that penalizes a spouse for fault during a divorce. Other judges may allow the clause as long as:

  • The terms of the clause are clear;
  • The clause applies equally to both sides;
  • Both spouses agreed to the clause; and
  • The penalty is fair and does not violate divorce law.

It is important to include a severability clause if you create a lifestyle clause in your agreement. That way, the rest of your agreement remains valid even if the lifestyle clause is unenforceable.

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Posted on in Premarital Agreement

Determining If You Need a Premarital AgreementFor all of the work that goes into creating a premarital agreement, you want to feel assured that your effort was worthwhile. Premarital agreements settle the same division of property issues as a divorce, which requires accounting for your individual properties and debts. You may feel uncomfortable discussing the possibility of divorce before you have married. Not every marriage needs a premarital agreement. However, you should weigh the potential benefits of an agreement before dismissing the idea because it is at least worth a discussion.

Financial Protection

A premarital agreement is most useful when the parties own several properties from before their marriage. In the agreement, you can:

  • Differentiate between marital and nonmarital properties; and
  • Determine which marital properties you will receive in case of a divorce.

The agreement will protect your ownership of key assets, such as your business interests and retirement benefits. An agreement can still be useful if you have not accumulated many premarital assets. Your spouse may have premarital debts, such as student loans, which you may share responsibility for during your marriage. A premarital agreement can separate the debts you are each liable for in case of divorce.

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