Prenuptial Agreements, Generally:
Simply stated, prenuptial agreements (prenups) are legal documents that dictate how couples agree to divide their assets if they were to get a divorce. Prenups can also direct how couples intend to share expenses during their marriage, the payment of spousal support, and much more. Illinois has adopted a Uniform Premarital Agreement Act which governs the formalities, effect, and enforcement of prenups. 750 ILCS 10.
Millennial Prenups: On the Rise, and Why:
While millennials oftentimes find themselves the punchline of jokes relative to their role in today’s society, it appears many are taking a no nonsense approach to marriage. In late 2016, the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers released a survey citing an increase in the number of millennials requesting prenuptial agreements. [i]
Why? Some might attribute millennials marrying later, therefore, accumulating more ‘premarital wealth’ they desire to protect. [ii] Many note that more than one-third of millennials grew up with single or divorced parents, and are hopeful a prenup can help avoid a divorce becoming unnecessarily acrimonious. [iii] Further, dual income households are much more prevalent now than they were historically, motivating both partners’ interest in the protections a prenup can provide.
Some might call it cynicism, but my experience is my millennial clients are treating the decision to sign a prenup simply as a proactive, protective measure. I always say, in a perfect world, a prenup is signed, sealed, and remains undelivered.
It’s easy to shrug off the millennial prenuptial agreement as the latest millennial #trend, but the reality is prenup can have a real value to anyone owning a property or business, planning to take off time to raise children, anticipating receiving inheritances, having a considerable amount of premarital wealth, or even holding a significant amount of premarital debt – i.e, student loans.
Plan for a Prenup:
If you’re considering a prenuptial agreement, be sure to plan well in advance of your big day. Contact a lawyer to find out what you can and can’t contract for (you might be surprised!) and address the topic early on with your partner. First, nothing can spoil the excitement of pending nuptials like an untimely request for a prenup. Second, you want to be sure to avoid any basis for your partner requesting to invalidate the agreement based upon the prenup being unconscionable (unreasonable), your failure to provide an appropriate disclosure of property and financial obligations, et cetera. It is imperative both parties have adequate notice of a prenup, in order to process, understand, and agree to the terms therein.
While you cannot always contract for peace of mind, a prenup can certainly help. Lack of romance aside, prenups can help couples avoid the heartache (and expense) of a contested divorce should their happily ever after end prematurely.
Madison H. Templin, Divorce and Family Law Attorney