A premarital agreement is a lot like an insurance policy. When you got your first apartment, you probably obtained renters’ insurance, even though the risk of accidental loss is very remote. Renters’ insurance offers excellent protection and it is easy to obtain.
Premarital agreements are much the same. After just one conversation, an attorney can draw up a fully-enforceable premarital agreement. As outlined below, these pacts can cover a wide range of matters. Furthermore, thanks to the Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act, Illinois courts rule on disputes in predictable ways.
The risk of divorce is much higher than the risk of accidental property loss. For that reason alone, a premarital agreement is probably a good idea.
What Premarital Agreements can Cover
Most people associate spousal agreements with financial matters. Indeed, most of these agreements cover these matters in a comprehensive manner. Money is one of the leading sources of discontent in a marriage. Removing this topic from the discussion puts your marriage on a more secure foundation.
Typically, the financial portion of an Illinois premarital agreement divides marital property and confirms separate property. As your holdings and needs change over the years, it is possible to revise the premarital agreement.
Premarital agreements can also cover non-property matters. Inheritance and succession issues are good examples. Divorce terminates inheritance rights, in most cases. That includes both former spouses and, sometimes, former children. Often, that is not the result a person intends. A premarital agreement can make provisions for former family members. It can also clarify succession matters in a family business.
Agreements that are against public policy are unenforceable. For example, a Chicago premarital agreement cannot contain any provisions regarding child custody or child support. Illinois judges must make these decisions based on the children’s best interests, and not the parents’ best interests.
Breaking a Premarital Agreement in Illinois
Few contracts are completely ironclad. There is nearly always a workaround available. But these loopholes are hard to find in this area. Illinois law contains a strong presumption in favor of spousal agreements in most divorce and financial matters. To overturn a premarital agreement, the challenging party must generally show one of the following:
- Involuntary: Pressure is almost inevitable in premarital agreements, so the challenging party must show more than a “sign-or-else” ultimatum. Other facts must accompany said ultimatum. For example, Bride might spring the agreement on Groom the day before the wedding, thus effectively denying Groom the right to separate counsel. If both parties have their own lawyers, it is difficult to challenge a premarital agreement on any basis.
- Incomplete: Similarly, the challenging party must do more than show the other party withheld financial information. The missing information must be material to the agreement and the challenging spouse must have had no other way to obtain the missing information.
- Unconscionable: There is a difference between “unconscionable” and “uneven.” 65-35 is uneven but probably not unconscionable. Furthermore, the agreements must have been unconscionable when it was made. This issue comes up quite a bit with regard to stock options.
Most premarital agreements in Illinois contain severability clauses. If one part is invalidated, the rest remains in force.
Work with Dedicated Lawyers
Premarital agreements set marriages on firm foundations. For a confidential consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Schaumburg, contact Glasgow & Olsson.
(image courtesy of Frank McKenna)