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Understanding Post Nuptial Agreements in Illinois

Questionnaire about family law

A post-nuptial agreement can protect assets and define debts in the event of a divorce. Under Illinois law, a post-nuptial agreement is a legal contract between a husband and wife. Usually drawn up by top Chicago divorce lawyers, it is a binding contract that is enforced in Illinois courts during a divorce.

Questionnaire about family law

What is a Post-Nuptial Agreement?

Unlike a prenuptial agreement that’s signed before marriage, a post-nuptial agreement is executed and signed after a couple gets married. It clearly lays the groundwork for the couple’s financial affairs, including how marital assets will be divided if the couple chooses to divorce. Post-nuptial agreements deal with the division of all property that was acquired before and after marriage, as well as the division of debts and expenses.

If one spouse is entering into a new or risky business venture, a post-nuptial agreement can be drafted to protect the marital property interests of the other spouse. It can also be helpful during a time of marital problems, providing peace of mind to a spouse who feels that he/she is at significant financial risk. When properly drafted by top Chicago divorce lawyers, Illinois post-nuptial agreements provide legal protection for a spouse during a divorce. Post-nuptial agreements typically address the same kinds of issues that are normally addressed in a prenuptial agreement:

  • Establishes ownership of property in the event of a divorce or death of a spouse
  • Protects the family home and/or other assets in the event of a business failure
  • Clarifies responsibility for marital debts like mortgages, car loans and credit cards
  • Defines alimony payments, including amounts and time frames
  • Clarifies the inheritance rights of children from a current or previous marriage

Unlike prenuptial agreements, post-nuptial agreements signed after marriage deal mostly with marital assets and debts. They help to define each spouse’s marital property, financial responsibilities, and rights to any family business. One spouse’s out of control spending or improper behavior during the marriage might prompt the other spouse to ask for a post-nuptial agreement, even if the marriage is going well.

Are There Time Restraints on Post-Nuptial Agreements?

The answer is no. Post-nuptial agreements can be carried out at any time during a marriage. It doesn’t matter if the couple has been married for 30 days or 30 years. In Illinois, many married couples draw up post-nuptial agreements through top Chicago divorce lawyers when they experience significant changes in their relationship or financial status. Couples who remarry after a divorce often use post-nuptial agreements to protect the inheritance interests of children from previous marriages.

The Benefits of Post-Nuptial Agreements

Many people think that post-nuptial agreements are only for the wealthy, but these contracts provide benefits regardless of a couple’s wealth status. Drawing up an agreement during marriage gives a couple the chance to define issues that frequently cause marital problems that lead to a divorce. Post-nuptials allow the spouses, rather than a judge, to make the big decisions regarding distribution of marital property and asset protection in the event of a divorce.

For a marriage that ultimately ends in divorce, a post-nuptial agreement can ease tensions during divorce proceedings. It can help simplify the process of determining marital property versus non-marital property. When important issues are already outlined in a legal contract, divorce proceedings go much faster and the costs of hiring top Chicago divorce lawyers are reduced.

The Risks of Post-Nuptial Agreements

While post-nuptial agreements can benefit both spouses, there are certain risks to entering into one. When a post-nuptial agreement is drawn up and signed by both spouses, one spouse can’t simply back out of the contract because he/she did not thoroughly read or understand the document. Post- nuptial agreements are legal contracts that are upheld by Illinois courts, so it’s essential that they are drafted properly by top Chicago divorce lawyers. An agreement that does not meet the legal requirements of the court may be found void during a divorce proceeding.

Many couples who enter into post-nuptial agreements hire separate lawyers to make sure their individual legal rights are protected. When separate lawyers are retained, each lawyer can examine the contract to make sure the represented spouse is not giving away important rights in the event of a divorce.

Post-nuptial agreements are not right for all couples, and they may not resolve all issues. To be valid in Illinois courts, both spouses must voluntarily enter into and sign the agreement. A court may ignore issues that relate to children such as child support and child custody, if the court determines that the agreement is not in the best interest of the child. Since post-nuptial agreements are considered legally enforceable contracts in Illinois, they should be drafted by top Chicago divorce lawyers who understand court requirements.

Uncontested divorce lawyer Denise Erlich is passionate about helping divorcing couples in the greater Chicagoland area transition to their new life as seamlessly as possible. Ms. Erlich patiently guides her clients through every step of the divorce process and provides clients with candid advice about their case and legal options, so they can make informed decisions about their future.

Years of Experience: More than 20 years
Illinois Registration Status: Active
Bar & Court Admissions: Illinois State Bar Association U.S. District Court, Northern District of Illinois
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