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Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are commonplace and on an upward trend, due to the high divorce rates seen among couples in the United States. A prenuptial agreement is a legal document made before a couple gets married, which addresses the rights and obligations surrounding assets and debts of each party. A postnuptial agreement, as distinguished from a prenuptial agreement, is a legal document signed by a couple after they are married or have entered a civil union.
Like a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement normally addresses rights and responsibilities for each party regarding marital and non-marital assets, delineates how marital assets will be distributed in the event the marriage ends or a spouse dies, and may even consider matters such as spousal support, child support, child custody, who has to pay certain debts owed to creditors, etc. An experienced family law attorney can help provide you with guidance if you are about to get married and want to sign a prenuptial agreement, or if you are currently married and are interested in entering into a postnuptial agreement with your spouse.
Validity of Postnuptial Agreements
Legal requirements for postnuptial agreements vary according to state law. Generally, to be valid under Illinois law, a postnuptial agreement must be in writing and voluntarily (willful and free from coercion or duress) signed by both parties. Additionally, the terms of the agreement cannot be unconscionable, and there must be full disclosure of property and assets owned by each spouse. These legal requirements apply when determining the validity of a prenuptial agreement, and will be examined and weighed heavily in the event of a separation or the death of one spouse.
How Can a Postnuptial Agreement Protect You?
When you are entering into a marriage, you generally are not planning on getting a divorce. Even so, it is never a bad idea to plan what may happen to your assets, properties, and debts in case the marriage does not work. A few things one can do to make sure the postnuptial agreement protects their interests include the following:
Make sure it meets the legal requirements in order to prevent the court from throwing it out as invalid;
Seek the services of an attorney who can review and revise the document as necessary; and
Read the agreement carefully before signing it to determine if its fair and if your expectations have been met.
Who Do You Call When You Need a Postnuptial Agreement?The attorneys at Martoccio & Martoccio recognize the seriousness of the commitment of marriage and are experienced in helping couples prepare prenuptial and postnuptial agreements that best fits their needs and circumstances. Contact our Hinsdale family law attorneys to schedule a free consultation, and we will discuss your questions as to the advantages or disadvantages of entering these agreements.