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Can I Protect My Assets without a Prenuptial Agreement?

Prenuptial agreements, which are also known as Premarital agreements, are contracts that allow couples to set parameters regarding how their marital assets and marital liabilities will be divided between them in the event of a divorce, regarding keeping separate properties separate throughout a marriage, setting up alimony (which is also known as maintenance) parameters, and regarding other financial matters. Prenuptial agreements can play an important role in protecting your assets in the event that your marriage fails. 

If you don’t have a prenuptial agreement – which must be created and executed prior to marriage – there are other steps you can take to protect your financial rights, and an experienced Illinois family law attorney can help you with that. 

Postnuptial Agreements

While prenuptial agreements (also known as premarital agreements) go into effect upon marriage, a postnuptial agreement is another option. Postnuptial agreements are executed after the date of the marriage, and like prenups, they must be in writing and signed by both of you. Further, they cannot include certain terms, such as parenting time and parental responsibilities (child custody arrangements) or child support, which must all be determined in accordance with certain standards, statutes, and laws at the time of divorce. 

Finally, postnuptial agreements – like prenuptial agreements – must address the rights of both spouses fairly and not be created in contemplation of divorce. If you have assets you’re interested in protecting in the event that your marriage doesn’t last, a postnuptial agreement may be a good option. 

Keeping Separate Assets Separate

If you own separate property, which refers to those assets you owned prior to the time of your marriage and kept separate throughout your marriage, it will remain your own upon divorce so long as that is clearly distinguishable and determined at that time. There are, however, considerations to keep in mind, including:

  • Any increase in the asset’s value can be considered marital.
  • An increase may need to be divided between you equitably – or fairly – upon divorce. 
  • Assets like businesses and retirement accounts tend to be at least partially marital – due to their increase in value over time.

Business Ownership

If the asset you are interested in protecting is a business, any increase in its value is marital, but there are other points to keep in mind, including:

  • If you run your business, failing to pay yourself a fair wage can erode its separate nature (due to your household’s subsequent decrease in income).
  • If your spouse works at the business with you, it can also blur the line between separate and marital.
  • If you don’t keep strictly separate books for your business and home or if you use marital assets to help grow your business, it’s unlikely to retain its separate nature.

Keeping a separate business strictly separate can be a daunting undertaking. 

It’s Time to Reach out for the Professional Legal Guidance of an Experienced Illinois Divorce Attorney

If you have concerns regarding protecting your assets in relation to marriage, the best course of action is to discuss your options with a dedicated divorce attorney. At WARD FAMILY LAW, our trusted Illinois divorce attorneys have a wealth of experience helping clients like you implement the tools and strategies necessary to skillfully protect their assets, and we’re here for you, too.  That can be with a prenuptial (also known as premarital) agreement or postnuptial agreement. For more information about how we can help, please don’t hesitate to contact us today.

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