Some couples in Illinois might think of prenuptial agreements as tools that are only useful for wealthy people. However, since most divorces involve the division of property, a prenup can also be helpful for couples who do not have enormous incomes. It gives them the opportunity to establish what assets they want to keep separate and how they will divide shared income and handle spousal support in a calm environment.
One stage of the divorce process is full disclosure of all assets and debts. A spouse who had not been part of managing the marital finances up to this point can be at a disadvantage in a divorce. A prenup ensures that this disclosure happens before the marriage since the couple must also disclose assets and debts. However, this conversation can be valuable for couples even if they do not divorce. Understanding the financial situation and the other person’s attitude toward money can reduce the likelihood of conflict over money after marriage and may make the relationship stronger.
This does not have to be a one-time conversation. Couples might benefit from sitting down annually and reviewing the marital finances and talking about their goals and concerns regarding money. This could also protect a spouse in a divorce from finding out about debts of which he or she might otherwise be unaware.
Without a prenup, couples will have to negotiate to come to an agreement regarding property division. If both individuals cannot agree, they might have to go to court. Prenups cannot address child support, custody and visitation, so even if the couple has one, they will still need to reach an agreement on these issues if they become parents. If they end up in family court, a judge will decide based on the best interests of the child, but parents can use this standard in their decision-making as well.