You have likely heard of a prenuptial agreement, which are increasing in popularity as they protect each person’s assets in the case of a future divorce before they even get married. What many people may not know, however, is that people who are already married can also make these types of agreements.

Married couples who want to protect themselves financially can enter into a postnuptial agreement that decides which person gets what property and what amount of support, if any. These contracts can provide peace of mind and take some of the uncertainty out of a divorce.

If you are in Cook County and considering a postnuptial agreement, a knowledgeable attorney can help you determine if it is the right choice for you. Our diligent attorneys at Reidy Law Office LLC can then work to create an agreement that works for your family.

What is a Postnuptial Agreement?

A postnuptial agreement is a type of marital contract between two spouses. These contracts are legally enforceable and carry as much weight as any other binding document. This means you cannot back out of these obligations later on if you no longer agree with them.

Most postnuptial agreements deal with property and/or other assets and are meant to minimize the financial risk of a divorce. They can provide that a spouse who owned certain property before a marriage keeps that property after a divorce. This agreement could also identify when one spouse is entitled to maintenance or support payments depending on the length of the marriage.

A marital contract can bind parties to almost any obligation. They are governed by the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution Act, which says that a court will only overturn these contracts if the agreement is unconscionable or provides for illegal terms according to 750 ILCS 5/502(b).

However, marital contracts cannot resolve the issue of child custody or child support. Illinois law requires divorcing couples to act in the best interest of the child and to provide at least the state’s minimum amount of child support. Therefore, a married couple cannot decide what will happen to the children after a divorce until a divorce case begins. Once that happens, the parties and the judge can determine the custody arrangement and support requirements that fit a child’s needs.

Who in Cook County Needs an Agreement?

There are many situations where married couples could benefit from a postnuptial agreement. These include situations where couples have separate property, business interests, and/or plans for divorce.

Separate Property

Spouses may use postnuptial agreements to divide their separate and marital property. For instance, if one spouse owned a home prior to the marriage and wants to keep the home after a divorce, they could create a contract that specified it as a separate asset.

Protect Business Interests

Business owners and their spouses often enter into postnuptial agreements to protect themselves. The spouse who owns the business may also use such a contract to prevent their spouse from receiving an interest in the business during divorce proceedings. In contrast, the spouse who does not own the business may wish to insulate themselves from liability in case the business fails.

Facilitate Divorce or Reconciliation

A postnuptial agreement can provide financial certainty to both spouses during a marriage before things get out of control. Divorce is an emotional process for many people. Trying to negotiate and/or clarify things before emotions take over can save thousands of dollars. If the marriage fails, each person knows the assets and liabilities that they will receive during the divorce. This certainty can give spouses the confidence to either choose to make decisions that are right for them.

Learn More About Marital Agreements From a Cook County Attorney

If your financial circumstances have changed since your marriage or if you want to be sure of where you will stand after a divorce, you may benefit from speaking with a Cook County attorney about postnuptial agreements. If your spouse wants you to sign a postnuptial agreement, it is crucial to have the document reviewed by a lawyer. Call Reidy Law Office LLC today.