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How Does a Premarital Agreement Work?

A premarital agreement may not be the most romantic concept, but it’s an important step in ensuring your financial health in the event of a divorce.

In Illinois, a premarital agreement is an agreement between future spouses made in contemplation of marriage. The agreement goes into effect when the marriage begins. It must be in writing and signed by both parties. The agreement typically lists each party’s property and debt, and may include provisions such as:

  • The disposition of property, including life insurance policies, upon separation, divorce or death
  • The choice of law governing the agreement
  • Any other matter, including personal rights and obligations, not in violation of public policy or law

A premarital agreement may also contain a provision for the modification or elimination of spousal support. This provision may be enforceable if:

  • It was executed before January 1, 1990, or
  • It does not cause “undue hardship in light of circumstances not reasonably foreseeable at the time of the execution of the agreement.”

However, a premarital agreement may not contain provisions that will adversely affect a child’s right to support.

Often, a party will attempt to have a premarital agreement set aside. For this to occur, you must prove:

  • The agreement was not entered into voluntarily, or
  • The agreement was unconscionable when it was executed

To prove that a premarital agreement is unconscionable, you must show:

  • You were not provided a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property or financial obligations
  • You did not voluntarily and expressly waive, in writing, any right to disclosure of the property or financial obligations, and
  • You did not have an adequate knowledge of the property or financial obligations

To ensure that a premarital agreement is upheld, each party should be represented by his or her own lawyer. If you need help crafting a premarital agreement that will serve your best interests, or if you need help setting aside an unconscionable agreement, an experienced family law attorney can help you obtain an optimal outcome.

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Paul Chatzky
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About Born in Havana, Cuba, Paul Chatzky is fluent in Spanish and English, enabling him to effectively represent a wider range of individuals and businesses. He is AV® Preeminent™ Peer Review Rated by Martindale-Hubbell®, and is listed among Illinois Super Lawyers, which is a reflection of his high ethical standards and exceptional legal knowledge. As…

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Deborah E. Chatzky
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About Prior to joining the firm as a paralegal, Debbie was employed by major banking institutions as a loan processor and as an executive secretary. Debbie was also employed as an administrative assistant for the Board of Jewish Education. Having majored in Sociology, Debbie graduated from the University of Florida in 1980. Debbie completed her…

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