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Naperville prenuptial agreement attorneyIn most cases, marriage is meant to be a permanent partnership, and a couple will plan to stay together for the rest of their lives. However, it is important to remember that a significant percentage of marriages end in divorce. While the actual divorce rate in the United States is difficult to determine accurately, it is generally considered to be between 40 and 50%. Even though it may be unpleasant to contemplate, recognizing the distinct possibility that your marriage may end in the future can help you consider how you want certain issues to be handled in a potential divorce.

By discussing these matters with your partner before you get married, you can determine whether a prenuptial agreement is right for you. This type of legal agreement can provide both of you with reassurance that you will have the financial resources you need if your marriage ends, and by making decisions now, you can take some of the uncertainty and conflict out of the divorce process. A prenup can also include provisions to ensure that certain assets will be given to your children, or it can be used to protect a business that you or your partner own from being negatively affected by a divorce.

Terms of a Prenuptial Agreement

A prenup will usually focus on financial matters related to the property owned by you or your partner, the assets you acquire during your marriage, and the income that each of you earns. You can specify how property will be divided or allocated if you get divorced or separated, if one spouse dies, or in the case of many other events that you may specify. Your prenup can also include terms detailing each spouse’s rights and responsibilities toward different assets during your marriage, including the right to buy, sell, use, manage, exchange, or lease property.

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How to Encourage Your Fiance to Enter Into a Prenuptial AgreementThere are situations where creating a prenuptial agreement is both prudent and necessary. For instance, you may have significant premarital assets that could potentially become entangled with your marital assets. A prenuptial agreement would clearly identify the properties that belong to you in the event of a divorce. However, asking your fiance for a prenup can be uncomfortable. If you ask in the wrong way, you risk damaging your relationship and possibly endangering your marriage. To avoid a negative reaction, you should discuss getting a prenuptial agreement in a way that allows your fiance to feel comfortable and in control of the process.

Start the Conversation Early

You can broach the subject of getting a prenuptial agreement before you get engaged, letting your partner know that it is something you are considering. That way, your fiance should not be caught off guard when you talk about it after your engagement. Ideally, you want to negotiate and complete the agreement months before your wedding. There are several reasons why a last-minute prenup is a terrible idea:

  • Your fiance may feel like you are pressuring them if you ask for a prenuptial agreement only a few weeks before the wedding.
  • A divorce court may later find your agreement to be invalid if your spouse claims they signed it under duress.
  • Your fiance needs time to consider your request and find their own legal representation.
  • The weeks leading up to a wedding are already hectic and stressful without adding the need to negotiate a prenuptial agreement.

Make It a Collaborative Effort

Though you may have a greater interest in creating a prenuptial agreement, your fiance needs to feel like an equal partner in the process. This starts with being honest about why you want a prenup and explaining how the agreement could benefit you both. Encourage your fiance to hire their own family law attorney to make sure they have someone who is representing them throughout the process. Conduct the negotiations in a way that gives your fiance an equal voice in deciding on terms of the agreement. Creating a prenuptial agreement together can be practice for how you will collaborate when you are married.

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How to Shield Your Business From a Potential DivorceThere can be a fine line between financial success and failure when running a business. A young business may not be able to survive an unexpected loss of revenue, and even an established business may suffer a setback. Most owners do not consider divorce when guarding their business against risks, but your business will get caught up in your divorce if the business is marital property. You may be forced to choose between giving up part of your business to your spouse or paying them off with other assets. By planning ahead, you may be able to protect your business from the division of property.

Prenuptial Agreement

If you started your business before you got married, you can use a prenuptial agreement to say that your business would not be marital property in the event of a divorce. The agreement could further specify:

  • Which parts of the business are marital and nonmarital
  • Whether your spouse would receive a portion of the amount that your business increased in value during your marriage
  • That you would have complete ownership of the business in case your spouse becomes a co-owner

You can create a postnuptial agreement instead of a prenuptial agreement if you have already married or you started the business after you married. In order for your agreement to be valid, you cannot coerce your spouse into signing it or withhold vital information.

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Cohabitation Agreements Protect Property Rights After BreakupsRomantic relationships are less bound by the need to marry than they were decades earlier. Adults can live together, share their finances and raise a family without ever marrying each other. However, there are institutional benefits to being married, including the rights and protections that you receive if you divorce. Divorcees in Illinois are entitled to an equitable share of their marital properties and are presumed to both have parental rights. Unmarried couples can protect themselves in the event of a breakup by creating a cohabitation agreement, a document that serves a similar purpose as a prenuptial agreement.

Why You Need a Cohabitation Agreement

Most properties that you acquire during a marriage are classified as marital properties, which you each have a fair claim to. The issue is murkier if you have a property dispute after the breakup of an unmarried relationship. The Illinois Supreme Court has denied equitable property rights to unmarried couples in the past. A written cohabitation agreement is a contract that:

  • Defines which properties you will divide in the event of a breakup
  • Divides the properties in a way that you deem fair
  • Creates an obligation for your relationship partner to follow the principles of fairness following your breakup

Cohabiting partners may have many properties that they paid for together or have both invested in, such as a home, vehicle, household appliances, and luxury items. For instance, your partner may have purchased your home on their own, but you may have a financial interest in the property if you have contributed to paying expenses on the household.

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Mistakes to Avoid When Creating a Prenuptial AgreementThe purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to save you time and stress in the event that you divorce. Mistakes in your agreement can make the divorce process more complicated instead. Imagine your frustration if you learn that the agreement is unenforceable because of the way you created it or a provision in it. You may end up renegotiating your division of property and spousal maintenance. A fully enforceable agreement could be just as frustrating to you if you realize that it leaves you at a disadvantage. You would need a legal reason to discard a valid contract. Despite the possible problems, there are many couples who benefit from having a prenuptial agreement when they divorce. There are four mistakes that you should avoid when creating an agreement:

  1. Do Not Rush: You should give yourself weeks to months to create your prenuptial agreement. You need time to consider what you want from the agreement and to examine it before you approve it. You may feel tempted to hurry through the process because the idea of getting divorced makes you uncomfortable. However, you will wish you had taken the time to understand the agreement if you end up using it.
  2. Do Not Withhold Information: A prenuptial agreement can be invalid if one of the parties lied about or withheld financial information that would have changed the agreement. This is usually a valuable premarital property that someone hid. If your future spouse knew about the property, he or she may have asked for a greater share of marital assets. Parties can also withhold information about debts that could become a marital obligation in a divorce.
  3. Do Not Use the Same Lawyer: At first glance, it may seem practical to share one family law attorney when creating a prenuptial agreement. You are on good terms with each other and share the same goals. However, you each need your own attorney to look at the agreement and make sure that it is fair to you. You should choose your own attorney to ensure that he or she is independent of your partner.
  4. Do Not Sign Anything You Are Uncomfortable With: You are not obligated to approve a prenuptial agreement before your marriage. If something in the agreement seems wrong or confusing, ask your attorney to explain it to you. Your future spouse is not allowed to pressure you into signing, such as presenting an agreement the day before your wedding. Creating an agreement under duress would make it invalid.

Contact a Naperville Family Law Attorney

A prenuptial agreement is a complicated document, much like a divorce agreement. You need an experienced DuPage County family law attorney at Calabrese Associates, P.C., to create a valid agreement that is fair to you. To schedule a consultation, call 630-393-3111.

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Remembering a Prenuptial Agreement for Your Next RelationshipGoing through a divorce is when you are most likely to realize how useful a prenuptial agreement can be. The agreement can save time on the negotiation of the division of properties and spousal maintenance. Unfortunately, it is too late to create a prenuptial agreement or even a postnuptial agreement if your divorce has already started. You should remember this lesson when you enter your next major relationship that involves sharing assets with your partner. Creating a prenuptial or co-tenancy agreement is a practical step towards protecting individual assets if you have previously divorced.

Second Marriage

There may be several reasons why you did not create a prenuptial agreement before your first marriage:

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Reasons Your Prenuptial Agreement May Need an UpdateCreating a prenuptial agreement is helpful in settling financial issues that will come up during a divorce. The agreement lays out a plan for how premarital properties will be treated and what level of spousal maintenance will be provided. However, spouses should consider it a living document that may need to be updated. Financial circumstances in the marriage can change in ways that make the agreement obsolete or unfair to one party. It will be easier for both parties to renegotiate the prenuptial agreement while still married than during the divorce.

Spousal Maintenance

Parties in a prenuptial agreement may choose to establish the value and duration of spousal support payments after divorce, especially when one party has a significantly greater income than the other. However, the balance of financial power can change in a marriage: 

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Advantages and Disadvantages of Postnuptial AgreementsPostnuptial agreements are often grouped in the same discussions as prenuptial agreements. Both are legal documents that help spouses predetermine the terms of a hypothetical divorce, including:

  • Defining marital and nonmarital properties;
  • Determining how marital properties would be divided;
  • Protecting spouses from nonmarital debt; and
  • Setting the expectations for spousal maintenance.

By definition, the difference between a prenuptial and postnuptial agreement is that postnuptial agreements are reached after the spouses have married. Spouses may opt for a postnuptial agreement if it is too late to create a prenuptial agreement or they need to change the prenuptial agreement. However, spouses can have different reasons for creating a postnuptial agreement than they would for a prenuptial agreement.

Changing Relationship

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Seven Tips for Discussing a Prenuptial Agreement With Your Future SpouseCreating a prenuptial agreement can be a pragmatic step for a marrying couple. Marriages can end prematurely, either due to divorce or sudden death. A prenuptial agreement allows spouses to determine:

  • How property and debt will be divided;
  • Whether one spouse needs to pay alimony; and
  • Other matters that are not related to children.

You may see the logic in suggesting a prenuptial agreement, but discussing it can be emotionally awkward. How do you talk to your future spouse about being prepared in case your marriage fails? There are tactful and sensitive ways to start the conversation.

  1. Pick the Right Time: Plan to first mention getting a prenuptial agreement when you know you will both be calm and capable of having a long discussion. If your fiancé is tired or in a bad mood, the discussion is more likely to devolve into an argument.
  2. Broach the Topic Gently: Do not start with a demanding statement, such as “I want to get a prenup.” Frame the topic as a practical conversation about the benefits of having an agreement.
  3. Be Honest: Explain the reasons you want to have a prenuptial agreement. If you are concerned about the financial disparity between you and your future spouse, be upfront about it. Your future spouse is less likely to agree if he or she is wondering about your motives.
  4. Be Reassuring: Let your fiancé know that you are not suggesting a prenuptial agreement because you expect to get divorced. Tell him or her that the agreement is a practical document, similar to a will, that can protect both of you.
  5. Engage in a Conversation: Encourage your fiancé to participate in the discussion with his or her thoughts, questions and concerns. You may have a speech planned about why you want a prenuptial agreement, but be willing to stop talking and listen to your fiancé. If your fiancé is not talking, you may need to be the one asking questions to keep him or her engaged.
  6. Keep Calm: Try not to let your emotions lead the conversation. If you become angry, you cannot effectively discuss the topic, and your fiancé may feel poisoned to the idea of getting a prenuptial agreement.
  7. Know When to Stop: Be prepared to have multiple conversations about getting a prenuptial agreement. If you think the discussion is becoming an argument, it may be best to pause and start the discussion again at a future date.

Getting a Prenup

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