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Lombard family law attorneysPrenuptial agreements, or prenups, are becoming more common, as they acquire a solid reputation for safeguarding one’s interests and assets. However, they are not cure-alls for marriages. There are some things that simply cannot be addressed in a prenup. It can help avoid disagreements if your prenuptial agreement is crystal clear on what it disposes of and if you do not try to do too much with it.

DO: Distinguish Between Marital and Non-Marital Property

This is arguably the primary purpose of a prenuptial agreement. Illinois law lists it as the second right that couples have in the creation of such a document, and indeed, that is what most are used to accomplish. Dividing one’s property in a prenuptial agreement can save significant time and trouble in divorce court, which can provide a significant boost to post-marital relations.

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prenuptial agreement, lifestyle clause, Illinois family lawyersAs we have recently discussed in greater detail in other posts on this blog, at-fault divorce is now a thing of the past in Illinois. No matter what you think your spouse may have done, a family court will only care about one thing: whether or not irreconcilable differences have caused the breakdown of your marriage. It has long been the case that marital misconduct cannot be considered by the court in proceedings for spousal maintenance or property division either. The court may, however, recognize a prenuptial agreement between you and your spouse that includes what are commonly known as lifestyle clauses, allowing the behavior of one spouse or the other to still affect divorce proceedings.

Infidelity Clauses

Despite the Illinois law prohibiting divorce on the explicit grounds of adultery, the most common type of lifestyle clause found in many prenuptial agreements provides for a penalty in the event one spouse cheats. Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel reportedly have such a clause in their prenuptial agreement, and many other celebrity couples are thought to as well. If such an agreement is seen by the court as reasonable, whatever financial or property-related penalty upon which you have agreed may be enforced. This, howeer,

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inheritance, prenuptial agreement, Illinois Family Law AttorneyWhile many may view prenuptial agreements as necessary only for the rich and famous who stand to lose millions in divorce, the reality is much different. In fact, many marriage and financial experts recommend such agreements for all couples, especially those entering a second or subsequent marriage. In addition to outlining what is to happen with marital property in the event of death or divorce, can also be used to identify your own personal assets prior to marriage and establish a plan for their disposition as well.

Heirlooms and Inheritances

Consider a fairly specific, but not terribly uncommon scenario: For several generations, your family has passed down an item of both physical and sentimental value to the oldest child. This item previously belonged to your father, to his mother before him, and to her father before her. You inherited the asset prior to your marriage and long before you ever had children. Since the heirloom is an inheritance, and since it was acquired before marriage, it is not considered marital property by law. However, a prenuptial agreement can help you solidify the item’s status as personal property, retaining your ability to pass it down to your oldest child regardless of the state of your marriage.

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prenuptial agreement, invalidating an agreement, Illinois family law attorneysBefore your wedding, you and your fiancé went through the process of drafting a prenuptial agreement. Like many couples, you decided that it was in your best interest to create an arrangement for financial security in the event of a divorce or premature death. Maybe you were not fully on board with the idea, but you loved him so much that you were willing to do just about anything to marry him.

Now it is several years later, your marriage has come to an end, and you realize that some of the terms and clauses in your prenuptial agreement seem to be a bit one-sided or unfair. You may even be wondering if it the agreement is valid and enforceable. Depending on the circumstances, it is possible that a prenuptial agreement may be invalidated for several different reasons.

Fraud

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postnuptial agreement, finances, Lombard Family LawyerDespite the immeasurable amounts of research and advice available to married couples, financial issues continue to be among the leading causes for divorce in the United States. In fact, some experts estimate that nearly half of all American divorces are directly related to financial priorities and disagreements. Many couples looking to be proactive about money matters may decide to negotiate a prenuptial agreement prior to their marriage. Others, however, may not realize the need for such arrangements until well after their wedding day. For these situations, a postnuptial agreement may be the solution.

Recognizing the Need

Postnuptial agreements are often initiated by couples who are beginning to see signs of financial concerns but are dedicated to salvaging their relationship. Such concerns may be triggered by the success of failure of a business venture, health-related issues, or the advancement in age of both spouses, among many other factors. While being objective about family matters and the future may be difficult, doing so jointly and effectively can help unite a couple in their efforts to strengthen their marriage.

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