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Can a Prenuptial Agreement Be Invalidated in Illinois?

By Leslie Fineberg on March 6, 2014

If you have signed a prenuptial agreement and are getting a divorce, does it mean that you have signed away your rights during divorce proceedings?  The answer to that question can be complicated, especially given the passage of the Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (IUPAA), which made it more difficult for parties to challenge the validity of a prenuptial agreement during divorce proceedings.

That being said, the IUPPA only applies to prenuptial agreements signed after 1990 and still allows some leeway for courts to invalidate prenuptial agreements.

One consideration the court might factor in is whether it believes the terms of the prenuptial agreement are “unconscionable.”  For example, a judge may decide that the terms of the prenuptial agreement were so overwhelmingly one-sided that it is blatantly unfair and can therefore be invalidated.

Be aware that this is still up to a judge’s discretion. What you may consider unfair may not be unfair in a judge’s eyes. Therefore, even if the terms of a prenuptial agreement are distinctly advantageous for just one party, it may not necessarily be invalidated. If you freely signed the prenuptial agreement, even one that was lop-sided in favor of your spouse, you will still have a difficult time getting a court to invalidate a prenuptial agreement under Illinois law.

Other unconscionable factors may also weigh into a judge’s decision. Did one party not fully disclose all of their financial assets? Did the terms of the agreement absolve them from child support? Once again, the IUPPA allows a spouse to limit disclosure of financial assets when negotiating a prenuptial agreement as long as the other spouse signed a waiver allowing that to happen. The waiver cannot be verbal and must be in writing, however.

The only other allowance the courts might take in considering whether to invalidate a prenuptial agreement is if the spouse challenging it did not sign it voluntarily. Once again, this is a difficult thing to prove in a he said/she said scenario.

Given the difficulties of challenging a prenuptial agreement in Illinois, it is essential that you seek the counsel of an experienced and knowledgeable family law attorney before you sign anything. The attorneys at Nottage and Ward in Chicago have the dedication you expect when negotiating a complicated and often awkward prenuptial agreement document before a marriage.

If you have been asked to sign a prenuptial agreement, call us at (312) 332-2915 or contact us online to schedule a consultation today.

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