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How to Design a Modern Prenuptial Agreement

In recent years, prenuptial agreements have become increasingly common, serving as a means for couples to protect their assets and delineate financial responsibilities both during the marriage and in the event of divorce. In Illinois, prenuptial agreements are called “premarital agreements.”

Premarital agreements are not a cookie-cutter or one-size-fits-all affair. Crafting a well-considered premarital agreement reflecting modern needs and individual goals requires thoughtful counsel and careful consideration of various Illinois-specific factors. Understanding the client’s goals and the couple’s lifestyle is important to enhance the suitability of the agreement, as is understanding the legal landscape to enhance the enforceability and efficacy of the agreement.

Understanding Illinois Prenuptial Agreement Laws

In Illinois, premarital agreements are governed by the Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (750 ILCS 10/1, et seq.), which outlines the requirements and limitations for such agreements. According to the statute, a premarital agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties voluntarily, without coercion or duress. Additionally, the parties must make a full disclosure of assets, liabilities, and income.

Consultation with Legal Counsel

It’s important to have legal counsel when drafting a premarital agreement in Illinois. While premarital agreements are often amicable, or even a cooperative and team-building experience, it is highly recommended that each party retains their own attorney to ensure a proper understanding of the agreement and to advocate for their individual needs and interests. Having separate legal representation strengthens the validity of the agreement and reduces the risk of coercion or undue influence.

Our attorneys can provide valuable insight and guidance, not only on the legal implications of the agreement but also on the practical considerations of how this agreement will age with you and serve you not only in the event of divorce but also during the marriage or in the event of the loss of a spouse. Additionally, our attorneys assist in assessing the fairness of an agreement and help negotiate terms that align with the client’s objectives.

Clarity and Specificity of Terms

Clarity and specificity are crucial when outlining the terms of a premarital agreement. Ambiguous language or vague provisions can lead to disputes and challenges during enforcement. Therefore, it is important to clearly define each party’s rights and obligations regarding assets, income, property division, spousal support (also known as alimony or maintenance), and other pertinent matters. Additionally, addressing potential scenarios such as home ownership, disability, inheritance, business ownership changes, or relocation can enhance the agreement’s comprehensiveness and effectiveness.


Premarital agreements are tools to be used to protect a couple’s assets and financial interests while maintaining an equitable balance between both parties. To have a valid and enforceable premarital agreement, it must be entered into voluntarily and it must be conscionable to both parties.

Conscionability, under the Illinois premarital statute, comes from both parties either having a fair and reasonable financial disclosure from each other or waiving said disclosure. Illinois courts will invalidate a premarital agreement if one party did not enter it voluntarily or if the agreement is unconscionable, where a party proves they did not have a fair and reasonable financial disclosure of the other, did not waive the disclosure, and didn’t know the other party’s financial status.

Therefore, it is crucial that any premarital agreement directly addresses whether the parties have fully disclosed their financial statuses to each other or are expressly waiving said disclosures. The premarital agreement should always strike a balance that considers the needs and circumstances of both parties and should always be entered into voluntarily in order to remain valid and enforceable in Illinois.

In addition to the content-specific requirements to remain enforceable, premarital agreements must also comply with certain legal formalities in order to be considered enforceable. The agreement must be in writing and signed by both parties before the wedding date. It is advisable to execute the agreement far in advance of the wedding date to avoid any perception of coercion or rushed decision-making. Additionally, both parties should retain copies of the signed agreement for their records.

Benefits of Prenuptial Agreements

More often than ever, couples are starting marriages after already establishing courses of education, careers, and even after first starting a family. Many others are entering second marriages after their children are grown. In these instances, and many others, premarital agreements offer protection for an individual’s assets and children’s futures, preserve inheritance, and so much more. As technology advancements have made access to information effortless, there has been a rise in awareness of and discussions about prenuptial agreements.

This rise in awareness directly relates to the rise in percentages of all couples that have prenups. That’s why we are seeing millennials and Gen Z turning to prenups for an informed and practical approach to the financial side of being married. We are seeing baby boomers and Gen X using prenups in conjunction with estate planning to ensure both their spouse and their adult children have clear paths forward to govern and direct inheritance and end-of-life care.

The value is not only in having a binding agreement in place protecting you and your spouse but also in the clarity these agreements can offer to the family that can strengthen and affirm the bonds of marriage.

Periodic Review and Amendment

As circumstances change over time, it is best practice to periodically review your premarital agreement, as an amendment may be necessary to maintain its relevance and effectiveness. Life events such as the birth of children, career advancements, or significant changes in financial status may warrant adjustments to the agreement’s terms. Moreover, changes in Illinois law or court precedents could impact the enforceability of certain provisions. Therefore, revisiting the agreement periodically and consulting with legal counsel is the best way to ensure that your agreement is both valid and drafted to meet your needs and goals.

Crafting a modern premarital agreement in Illinois requires meticulous attention to detail, adherence to legal requirements, and thoughtful consideration of each party’s interests. By seeking independent legal counsel to draft clear and equitable provisions that comply with legal formalities, and by providing comprehensive financial disclosures to each other, couples can enter their marriage with the peace of mind that comes from having an agreement that protects each of them as they navigate the future.

Call Our Downers Grove Prenuptial Agreement Lawyer

Contact our Downers Grove premarital agreement lawyer at SBK Law Group by calling 630-427-4407 to schedule your free consultation and ensure that your premarital agreement is crafted with precision. Our experienced attorneys will provide personalized guidance to safeguard your assets and protect your interests. Don’t leave your future to chance – trust SBK Law Group to help you navigate the complexities of premarital agreements and secure peace of mind for the road ahead.

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