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Preparing a prenup: what every Illinois couple should know

Whether you are in your 20s and getting married for the first time or a little older and getting married for the second or third time, you may very well be considering your options for a prenuptial agreement.

Regardless of your age and marital experiences, prenuptial agreements can be an attractive -- or necessary -- option. As such, you should understand some important facts about these legal documents so that you can make wise, informed decisions.

They are not all enforceable

Prenuptial agreements are legal documents and they must be valid to be enforceable. In accordance with Illinois laws, this means they must: 

  • Be in writing
  • Be signed by both parties, voluntarily
  • Not violate public policy or contain criminal elements

They should also not include prohibited clauses, including those that incentivize divorce or clauses that adversely affect the rights of a child.

You don't need to be affluent to have one

People often assume prenups are reserved for very rich or high-profile couples, but that is not the case. A prenup can protect individual assets, whatever they may be, as well as individual debts. 

There is a clock ticking

Most people realize that parties must sign a prenup before the wedding for it to be valid. However, signing it the day or even week before the wedding is not enough time, which could leave the agreement subject to contest. To ensure a prenup is valid, couples should draw it up well before the wedding to give both parties ample time and opportunity to review and negotiate the terms. 

It is true that not every couple needs a prenuptial agreement. However, those who can benefit from this planning tool should understand what they can do to protect themselves and their financial future, should a marriage end in divorce. With careful planning and legal representation, parties can secure a fair, valid prenup before turning back to the focus of building a life together.

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