While marriage is perceived as a romantic commitment, there are many legal issues to consider before marriage. Pre- and postnuptial agreements can essentially eliminate the uncertainty of what will happen to your property should the marriage unfortunately end.
If you intend to get married, or are already married, you may want to consider entering into a formal agreement with your future or current spouse. Prenuptial (pre-marriage) and postnuptial (during the marriage) agreements are legally binding agreements entered into before or during a marriage. These agreements allow couples to protect their interests in property and family from the uncertainties associated with death or divorce. In the absence of an agreement, the distribution of a couple’s assets may be allocated pursuant to Illinois laws which may not serve the couple’s best interests. Thus drafting an agreement before or during a marriage can serve to protect the couple and their family from the expenses and uncertainty of potential legal proceedings.
Your future or current spouse must be in agreement with entering a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. You will need to have a very open, in-depth conversation with your significant other regarding what you both want from the agreement and the intent and conditions of the agreement. This can be a difficult discussion. Let the attorneys at Luckett & Ashford help prepare you for that conversation.
You must have the consent of your future or current spouse to create a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Without the consent of your future or current spouse, the contract does not technically exist and is therefore not enforceable. Verbal contracts are often times hard to prove in court, so it is important that you put down any agreement in writing and have it recognized by an official entity. It is important that you consult a qualified attorney before attempting to draft a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Without the knowledge and expertise of an attorney, your agreement may not be legally valid.
Even if you have already drafted and signed an agreement with your spouse, you should consider having it reviewed by an experienced family law attorney. As the circumstances of a marriage evolve over time, the spirit and letter of the original agreement may be forgotten or misunderstood or the circumstances of you and your spouse may have significantly changed. In order to ensure that your agreement continues to suit you and your family’s needs and to ensure that your agreement is still legally valid, you should consider reviewing and updating it periodically or when a significant financial or emotional change occurs within the context of the marriage.