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Post-nuptial agreements can protect spouses

Pre-nuptial agreements are well-known contracts that are executed before marriage, and are used to help protect a spouse's assets if there is ever a divorce.

Couples who never agreed to a prenup before marriage, however, can also enter a post-nuptial agreement that can set forth their rights and responsibilities and address issues which may arise in a high-asset divorce.

A postnup can deal with many of these matters such as assets and debts, spousal support and what happens if a spouse dies. Entering these agreements at the beginning of a marriage, in a relatively tranquil atmosphere and when spouses are not upset, allows the couples to calmly deal with these and other issues that may arise in a contested divorce when emotions may play a greater role in decision-making.

A postnup may be advisable when one of the spouses receives a large inheritance or other windfall. They can invest those funds to buy an asset that benefits their family and still receive some of those funds back if there is a divorce. Post-nuptial agreements may also be helpful if the couple is undergoing difficult times such as an extra-marital affair or financial problems. These agreements can help provide more security to a spouse if there is ever a divorce.

Post-nuptial agreements can address matters that are not covered in state divorce laws. For example, these agreements can include a financial penalty for divorce. These agreements also require transparency about the couple's finances and assets must be clearly identified. A postnup may be more enforceable than a prenuptial agreement because engaged couples may have been unaware of their partner's finances.

Many issues concerning the couple's children, such as child custody and support, may not be covered in these agreements. Courts decide these matters after considering the children's best interests. Unreasonable and clearly unfair agreements may also be rejected by a judge in Illinois.

An attorney can help each spouse seek an agreement that is fair and reasonable and meets the couple's needs. They may also help assure that the postnuptial agreement is valid and enforceable.

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