When you think about prenuptial agreements, you may picture a wealthy, high-profile individual looking to protect his or her assets before he or she gets married. While prenuptial agreements are most definitely useful in providing security for one’s finances in the event of a possible divorce, their power is not completely unlimited. Before you sign a prenuptial, it is important to understand their limitations and to enlist the help of a qualified family law attorney.
A Prenuptial Agreement Cannot Be Too One-Sided
The Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act contains provisions regarding powers and limitations of such agreement in the state. There are several potential grounds upon which a prenuptial agreement may be found to be unenforceable, including deception by one spouse or that the agreement was signed under duress or coercion. An agreement will also be set aside if the court finds the terms to be unconscionable.
If the court determines that a prenuptial agreement is unconscionable, it means that the terms of the agreement unreasonably favor one party to the detriment of the other. For example, if a prenuptial agreement states that the wife will receive none of the marital property in the event of a divorce for any reason, the agreement could be found to be unconscionable and may not be enforced by the court.
Compromising the Rights of a Child
While a prenuptial agreement may include certain considerations regarding children, it cannot forfeit or compromise the rights of a child to financial support or the rights of either parent regarding the child. If either spouse has children from a previous relationship, a prenuptial agreement can make provisions for the support of those children and protect their inheritance rights, among other considerations.
The agreement, however, cannot make future plans for parental responsibilities or child support of any children the couple has together or may have down the road. Illinois law requires such issues to be addressed if and when they are necessary. A parenting plan or child support order must be based on the on the circumstances as they exist at the time of the divorce, not the time of the marriage. Child support, in particular, is also considered to be a right of the child and neither parent can waive or compromise that right on the child’s behalf.
Due to the variety of concerns they can address, prenuptial agreements may be relatively straightforward or extremely complicated. Before signing an agreement, it is important for you to fully understand each provision and how it could affect you in the future. A family law attorney can help you draft an agreement that meets your needs and protects your rights. If your fiancé has presented you with a prepared agreement and has asked you to sign, the guidance of a lawyer is even more critical. Your attorney can review the document and look for any inconsistencies or potential areas of concern, giving you the ability to propose any necessary changes before it is too late.
To learn more about prenuptial agreements in Illinois, contact an experienced Kane County family law attorney. Call 630-377-7770 for a free consultation at Bochte, Kuzniar & Navigato, P.C. today.