Prenuptial agreements can be incredibly valuable to some couples planning to marry in the Springfield, IL area. While commonly misunderstood, these contracts can help a marrying couple address important financial issues before getting married, allowing them both to enter the marriage on more open and honest terms. If you are planning to marry soon, talk with someone from our firm. It’s vital to know the value a prenuptial contract could potentially offer to you and your spouse-to-be. It’s also important to know how to craft a comprehensive and legally enforceable prenuptial contract.
Under certain conditions, a court may deem a prenuptial contract unenforceable. In most of these situations, the determination that a prenuptial contract is unenforceable hinges on an issue present at the creation of the contract. It is also possible for recent events to have materially changed important elements of the prenuptial contract without the signing parties realizing it. If you want to make a prenuptial contract that is legally enforceable and reliable, keep a few important tips in mind.
Hire an Attorney
You can find lots of free tools and accessible software that can help you draft a contract on your own, and you may think that you are perfectly capable of devising your own prenuptial agreement without the help of an attorney. The reality is that every marriage is unique and will involve different factors, and it is unlikely that any “boxed” contract drafting solution will completely cover everything you must cover in your prenuptial agreement. Working with an experienced Springfield, IL family law attorney is the best way to ensure your prenuptial contract is as comprehensive as possible and legally enforceable.
Your Springfield, IL family law lawyer will help you and your fiancée draft a prenuptial agreement that covers everything you need to cover. Whether you both have concerns about property division and alimony in the event of divorce or one or both of you have children from a previous marriage and want to ensure their financial security, an experienced attorney is the best way to ensure your prenuptial contract accomplishes its intended purpose.
Ensure Transparency in Contract Drafting
Most prenuptial agreements revolve around financial issues, such as outlining each spouse’s financial responsibilities during the marriage and each spouse’s responsibilities for their own debts. Financial disclosure is a crucial element of creating a prenuptial contract. Both you and your spouse must provide your attorney with complete and accurate financial records so that your prenuptial agreement is legally enforceable.
Your Springfield, IL family law attorney can help you gather the paperwork and other evidence you will need for your financial disclosure and help you integrate all of your financial information seamlessly into your prenuptial contract.
Consider Postnuptial Provisions
One of the reasons why prenuptial agreements tend to carry negative connotations for many Americans is that many believe they inherently suggest a lack of faith in the marriage as if the prenuptial contract provides a blueprint for divorce. The reality is that a prenuptial contract allows both marrying spouses to make their financial expectations clear right away. If the couple decides to divorce in the future, their prenuptial agreement can streamline the process significantly. Most couples who create prenuptial agreements include postnuptial clauses in these contracts that outline how a divorce will unfold if the couple decides to end their marriage.
A postnuptial clause in your contract will help each spouse know what to expect in the event their marriage breaks down beyond the point of possible reconciliation. For example, you can outline any circumstances that would bar your spouse from claiming alimony, as well as include clear definitions for both of your separate properties. This can eliminate a significant amount of time required for divorce proceedings in the future.
Make Sure Your Contract Is Legal
A prenuptial agreement is rendered unenforceable if it contains any illegal terms or if it is created on illegal grounds. For example, for a prenuptial agreement to be legally enforceable, both of the signing spouses must meet the legal requirements for signing the contract:
- Both spouses must be over the age of 18. Marrying under the age of 18 is possible with parental consent, but a minor under the age of 18 cannot sign a legally binding contract except for necessities.
- Neither spouse may already be married. If it is later discovered that one of the spouses who signed a prenuptial agreement were already married at the time, the contract is legally unenforceable.
- Neither spouse can legally sign under duress or threat. Both signing spouses must be of sound mind and sign the contract of their own will and volition. If one of the spouses threatens or otherwise illegally coerces the other into signing, the contract is not enforceable.
- The contract may not contain any illegal terms. A prenuptial agreement cannot outline any provisions regarding any illegal activity.
- The contract may not incentivize divorce. For example, the contract cannot present any provisions that one might interpret as encouraging divorce in the future.
- A prenuptial contract cannot include provisions for personal matters, such as sexual intimacy, vacations, or household responsibilities.
If your prenuptial contract satisfies the requirements for legal enforceability, you and your spouse can rely on it for guidance throughout your marriage. However, remember that you and your spouse may need to revisit your prenuptial agreement later in your marriage in light of recent life changes, such as the loss of a job, the development of a medical impairment or disability, or other events that materially alter the nature of the prenuptial agreement. It’s a good idea for you and your spouse to review your prenuptial agreement every few years to ensure it still aligns with your needs, goals, and lifestyle.
Ultimately, creating a prenuptial agreement that is both comprehensive and legally binding is very difficult without an experienced Springfield, IL family law attorney helping you. Both you and your spouse will benefit from experienced legal representation if you decide to draft a prenuptial agreement, so contact a reliable Springfield, IL family law lawyer to assist you in creating your prenuptial contract.