If you are like most people, you may assume that “typical” marriages do not require a prenuptial agreement. You may even think that premarital agreements are only used by the extremely wealthy. However, prenuptial agreements and other marital agreements can be powerful legal tools. Through a prenuptial agreement, you and your soon-to-be-spouse can define your property rights and responsibilities and start your marriage with a frank and honest discussion about financial concerns.
Differentiate Between Marital and Separate Property
When a couple marries, they combine many of their assets and debts. Assets and debts obtained by either spouse during the marriage are considered marital property. Assets and debts obtained before the wedding and certain gifts as well as inheritances are separate property and not subject to division during divorce. Through a prenuptial agreement, you and your spouse can decide which assets and debts are marital and which are owned by only one of the spouses. This is beneficial in the event of divorce and can also help spouses with estate planning concerns when a spouse passes away.
Determine a Spousal Maintenance Arrangement
Spousal maintenance, referred to as alimony, is financial support one spouse pays to the other upon divorce. Either spouse may petition the court for spousal maintenance during divorce, but Illinois courts typically award alimony to spouses when a spouse is placed in a financial disadvantage by divorce. The amount and duration of spousal maintenance payments are usually determined via statutory formula, but this is not always the case. If you want to have more control over spousal maintenance in the event that your marriage ends in divorce, you can determine a maintenance arrangement now and write it into your prenuptial agreement. The court will uphold your agreement unless there are major issues with the maintenance provisions that make them invalid....