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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 At worst, you may discover that your agreement is obsolete once it comes time to use it.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

Learning from Divorce Before RemarryingAfter finishing your divorce, you likely feel that you never want to go through that experience again. Divorce is naturally cumbersome, uncomfortable and depressing. However, many divorcees have not given up on the institution of marriage if they meet the right person. You may feel more cautious about getting married, which is actually a smart approach. Something went wrong in your first marriage, and you want to avoid making the same mistakes. Your divorce should serve as a lesson if you plan to remarry.

Be Patient

The reasons for your failed marriage should give you a better idea of the qualities you are looking for in a partner and what you want to avoid. With this profile in mind, you may feel emboldened to enter a serious relationship with the first person who checks all of those boxes. However, your first marriage taught you that it takes time to learn someone’s true nature. You likely felt that your first spouse was a perfect match before you married. Be more patient in getting to know your partner in a new relationship before entering a commitment.

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What to Consider When Making a Premarital AgreementCreating a premarital agreement is negotiating aspects of your divorce before you get married. If you have been through a divorce before, you remember how complex those negotiations were. If this is your first marriage, the process may seem overwhelming and intimidating. When thinking about your premarital agreement, it helps to remember its purpose. You and your future spouse are determining how your properties would be divided in a theoretical divorce without the animosity of the divorce clouding your judgment. When making a premarital agreement, you should anticipate financial decisions that would need to be made during a divorce.

Premarital Properties

If you divorce, your properties would be classified as either marital or nonmarital. Your marital properties would be divided equitably between the two of you, while you would keep all of your nonmarital property. Distinguishing between marital and nonmarital property becomes more difficult when spouses have been married for several years. The clearest distinction is which properties were purchased before the marriage. Your premarital agreement can identify and protect your nonmarital assets, such as:

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