Premarital agreements are vitally helpful documents to have in case of divorce. The agreement can settle some of the more contentious aspects of a divorce negotiation, such as the division of property and spousal maintenance payments. However, the document does no good if the divorce court determines that it is invalid. Problems with premarital agreements often originate from mistakes made during their creation. Illinois law states that a premarital agreement is unenforceable in the following instances:
- Unofficial Agreement: Both parties must read and sign the premarital agreement in order for it to become official. The parties are not required to have witnesses to the signing or to file the agreement with a government agency. However, there does need to be a formal document outlining the agreement, with proof that both parties understood and agreed to the terms.
- Signed Under Duress: One party cannot force or coerce the other into signing an agreement. This includes presenting the agreement shortly before the marriage. One party may feel pressured to sign the agreement without having the chance to properly review the document with his or her own attorney.
- Invalid Provisions: A premarital agreement is not allowed to make decisions about the allocation of parental responsibilities or child support. Those issues must be settled during the divorce, adhering to state laws. The agreement also cannot include provisions that are blatantly in violation of state divorce laws.
- Deception: A court may invalidate a premarital agreement if it determines that one party was hiding valuable assets in an attempt to gain an unfair advantage in the agreement. There is some responsibility for each party to not overlook premarital assets that they can easily discover. However, a party may be liable when failing to disclose an asset that the other party had no reasonable way of knowing about.
- Unconscionability: Even if both parties approved of a premarital agreement, a divorce court may not enforce an agreement that is blatantly unfair to one party. The court may also alter the terms of spousal maintenance if it believes the payment agreement would put undue hardship on one party for reasons that could not have been foreseen when the agreement was created.
When creating a premarital agreement, it is important that you and your future spouse each have your own legal representation to review the agreement. An attorney can also look over the agreement at the time of your divorce to determine whether it is valid. A Kane County divorce attorney at Van Larson Law, P.C., can help you with the creation and enforcement of premarital agreements. Schedule a consultation by calling 630-879-9090.