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Postnuptial Agreements in Illinois

Lafata Law LLC

Postnuptial agreements, like prenuptial agreements, are contracts between spouses that outline the division of assets, debts, and other financial matters. In Illinois, postnuptial agreements are recognized and enforceable, provided they meet certain legal criteria. The legal framework is similar to that for prenuptial agreements. The main difference being postnuptial agreements are executed after marriage.

Requirements for a Valid Postnuptial Agreement

To be enforceable in Illinois, the agreement must satisfy the following requirements:

  • Voluntary Execution: Both parties must enter into the agreement voluntarily, without coercion, duress, or undue influence.
  • Written and Signed Document: The agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties.
  • Full Disclosure: Each party must disclose their assets and debts at the time of the agreement.
  • Fair and Reasonable Terms: The terms of the agreement must not be unconscionable.
  • Consideration: Since the marriage itself cannot serve as consideration, there must be other forms of consideration specified.

General Provisions and Restricted Provisions

An agreement can include provisions related to:

  • Property Division: Specification of how property will be divided.
  • Spousal Support: Agreements on alimony, including waivers or limitations.
  • Estate Planning: Directions for wills, trusts, and other estate planning tools.
  • Financial Responsibilities: Allocation of financial responsibilities during the marriage.
  • Debt Allocation: How to divide certain or all debts.

Illinois law bars certain provisions, including:

  • Child Custody and Support: Any agreement regarding child custody or child support is not enforceable. The court determines custody based on the best interests of the child and support based upon that custody.
  • Unconscionable Terms: Provisions deemed unconscionable, especially if circumstances change making the terms overly harsh.
  • Illegal Activities: Any provisions that involve illegal activities or terms that violate public policy.

Timing for a Postnuptial Agreement

A postnuptial agreement can be executed at any time after the marriage has taken place. Couples may choose to enter into an agreement for various reasons. A common cause is a change in financial circumstances. Significant changes in financial circumstances, such as receiving an inheritance, a career change, or starting a business may necessitate a postnuptial agreement. Another common cause is marital issues. Addressing specific issues within the marriage in an effort to provide clarity and stability may result in a longer stronger marriage. An overlooked reason to have a postnuptial agreement in place is to plan an estate. Making arrangements for estate planning purposes can save a family from headaches and heartbreak down the road.

Benefits of Postnuptial Agreements

An agreement may provide clear terms regarding financial matters, reducing conflicts and misunderstandings. They also protect individual property and assets acquired before and during the marriage. A postnuptial agreement can prevent one spouse from being liable for the other’s debts and can help address and resolve specific marital issues, contributing to the stability of the marriage. An agreement can prepare all parties by reducing the costs and time associated with divorce proceedings by having predetermined terms.

Postnuptial agreements are a valuable tool for managing financial affairs and protecting assets during marriage. The contract required careful drafting to meet legal requirements. Counsel may ensure the contract is enforceable. Contact the knowledgeable attorneys at Lafata Law at 630-481-6633 to schedule a free consultation to determine if a postnuptial agreement is appropriate.

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