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Naperville family law attorneysYou have probably heard of a prenuptial agreement before. Although they are often misunderstood, prenuptial agreements can be a valuable tool for spouses who take their property and financial rights seriously. Prenuptial agreements protect both spouses’ property rights in the event of a divorce and also provide an effective way for engaged couples to ensure that they are on the same page regarding property and finances before getting married. When a couple decides to address property and debt after they have already gotten married, they may choose to draft a postnuptial agreement.

Issues That Can Be Addressed by a Postnuptial Agreement

Postnuptial agreements are generally used to establish arrangements for how a married couple’s assets and debts should be handled if the marriage ends in divorce. In a postnuptial agreement, a spouse may specify that a certain asset is exempt from asset division during divorce so that they will not risk losing the property.

Spouses may choose to address issues of spousal maintenance in their postnuptial agreement as well. Sometimes called alimony or spousal support, spousal maintenance refers to the payments that a lesser earning spouse makes to the higher-earning spouse in order to mitigate the negative financial effects of divorce on the recipient spouse. Some spouses include a spousal maintenance payment arrangement that would go into effect if the marriage ends in divorce. Other spouses use their postnuptial agreement to waive their right to spousal maintenance entirely. Information about how retirement accounts and the marital home will be managed in the event of divorce are also commonly included in postnuptial agreements.

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Naperville family law attorneyIt is not at all uncommon for a couple heading toward to marriage to consider developing a prenuptial agreement to address certain financial and personal concerns in the event of divorce or the death of one spouse. These agreements can provide guidance for just one or two important issues—such as a business interest of one of the parties—or they can be used to cover a wide range of considerations that could arise down the road. Some couples, however, may not realize how helpful a prenuptial agreement can be until after they are have already gotten married. In these situations, interested couples may choose to draft and execute a postnuptial agreement designed to meet their unique needs.

Benefits of a Postnuptial Agreement

Much like a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement can solidify arrangements for a couple’s property and debts should the marriage end in a divorce. In a postnuptial agreement, certain assets may identified as exempt from the property division process, allowing them to remain the spouse who currently owns them. A postnuptial agreement can also include provisions that require one spouse to pay spousal support to the other, or, conversely, waive both spouses’ rights to request support. Just about the only issues that postnuptial cannot address are the rights of the couple’s children as arrangements for parenting responsibilities and child support cannot be made until they are made necessary by a divorce.

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postnuptial agreement, Naperville family law attorneyAccording to a recently released survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), 50 percent of divorce attorneys nationwide report an increase in couples seeking postnuptial agreements. You have likely heard of prenuptial agreements, documents that couples draft before their marriage that detail what should happen in the event of divorce. Lawyers across the country recommend prenuptial agreements, and say that, while nobody enjoys discussing a divorce before their marriage, the documents help couples avoid potential marital conflicts before they arise. In Illinois, a prenuptial agreement can cover a variety of topics, such as property division and inheritance matters. A postnuptial agreement serves a similar purpose but is accessible to couples after they are married.

Why Get a Postnuptial Agreement?

Attorneys say couples seek postnuptial agreements when they believe the future of their marriage is in jeopardy. Rather than wait until a divorce, when emotions are high, postnuptial agreements allow couples to plan for important matters beforehand. “A postnuptial agreement is usually produced from some kind of serious strain or emotional fracture that directly impacts the marriage. It can represent a way for the spouses to move forward with a shared understanding about the ways in which certain subjects would be addressed in the event of a divorce,” says one AAML member. “The top items covered in a postnup are ones that typically cause the most stress and concern if a marriage enters a place of real uncertainty.”

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