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Prenuptial agreements are not always enforceable in Illinois

Many people who live in Cook and Lake counties in Illinois are generally aware that prenuptial agreements can be used to control the distribution of a couple's assets in the event they decide to divorce. Some people, however, do not realize that prenuptial agreements can be set aside in a number of circumstances.

Prenuptial agreements are generally used by couples when at least one of the prospective spouses owns significant assets. Such an agreement is a contract between the spouses that spells out the manner in which the couple will handle the financial aspects of a future divorce. Such agreements usually specify the amount, if any, of spousal maintenance and the manner in which specific assets will be divided. But not every prenuptial agreement can be enforced according to its terms if one spouse objects and can provide evidence that satisfies any of the statutory conditions for non-enforcement.

The grounds for voiding a prenuptial agreement include proof by the spouse against whom enforcement is sought that (a) he or she did not voluntarily execute the agreement, (b) the agreement was unconscionable at the time it was signed because the spouse seeking enforcement (i) failed to adequately disclose his or her financial affairs or (ii) because the other spouse did not have adequate knowledge of the financial affairs of the spouse seeking enforcement.

A provision in a prenuptial agreement that purports to be a waiver of alimony can be invalidated if the spouse who allegedly agreed to the waiver can prove that enforcement of such a clause would cause undue hardship in a manner that could not have been reasonably foreseen when the agreement was signed.

Any person who has signed a prenuptial agreement that now appears unreasonable in light of the effect of a pending divorce on his or her financial situation may wish to talk to an attorney who specializes in divorce law. Such a consultation can provide a helpful analysis of the enforceability of such an agreement, and enumeration of potential strategies for preventing enforcement.

Source: Illinois Compiled Statutes, "Ch. 10 ยง7," accessed Jan. 9, 2016

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