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Prenups for the Modern Marriage this Valentine’s Season

Love is in the air! With Valentine’s Day right around the corner, so is the beginning of engagement season. Now more than ever before, engaged couples are turning to prenups while planning for their big day.

A prenuptial or premarital agreement is a legally binding agreement entered into prior to marriage and in contemplation of a marriage “concerning the ownership of [each party] respective assets.” A premarital agreement is used to protect one or both spouses, and their assets, in the event you were to decide that the marriage is no longer working. Premarital agreements can be used to protect not only your own assets, property holdings, business interests, and even potential inheritances, but they can also be used to protect your spouse in pre-resolving maintenance (formerly known as alimony) disputes and ensuring that your future spouse is set up for success in the event of a divorce.

In 2022, more than 40% of marriages ended in divorce. While the idea of entering into a premarital agreement can often carry a stigma that you or your spouse are already looking for an exit route, the truth is that a premarital agreement is a crucial step in protecting not only you but also your future spouse. Failure to have a premarital agreement in place prior to your marriage (or post-marital agreement) may leave you at risk of a court deciding how your assets are handled in the event your marriage ends and could leave you at risk of having to give your spouse more than you are willing to part with.

In Illinois, premarital agreements are governed by the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act. In order to have a legally binding agreement, the agreement must be in writing, signed by both parties and notarized. In addition, both parties are required to make a full disclosure of any and all assets held by them, whether separately or jointly prior to entering into a premarital agreement. Doing this will allow for the agreement to properly delineate how all assets will be handled in the event of divorce.

What if you are already married? No worries, you are not barred from entering into an agreement if you are already married as Illinois also recognizes post marital agreements, or postnups. Post-marital agreements offer the exact same securities and protections as premarital agreements, they are just entered into after the marriage. In fact, post marital agreements are on the rise as many people who did not otherwise consider a premarital agreement are seeing the benefit of such an agreement after the marriage. Like premarital agreements, post marital agreements can address any number of things such as assets earned prior to the marriage, assets earned since entering into the marriage, possible future inheritances, business interest, repayments to the marital estate, and maintenance.

While addressing the idea of entering into a premarital or post marital agreement may not be the easiest decision to have with your future or current spouse, both parties should look at it as beneficial and an extra level of security for their future. If you or your future spouse are considering entering into a premarital or post marital agreement, it is crucial that you seek independent legal counsel (in Illinois both parties are required to obtain their own counsel) to ensure that the terms of the agreement and the agreement itself is binding and enforceable. The attorneys at Ward Family Law are well versed in all matters concerning premarital and post-marital agreements and are standing by to assist you today in ensuring your future is protected.  Reach out to us to schedule your free initial consultation.

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