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Same-Sex Marriage & Prenuptial Agreements: Items of Note

By Nottage and Ward on October 27, 2014

Following a Supreme Court ‘punt’ earlier in the month, a ban on same-sex marriage has been struck down in six additional lower courts – bringing the total number of states to ratify the action to 32. The federal government now recognizes unions between same-sex couples in Colorado, Indiana, Nevada, Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia and Wisconsin; as a result, federal and state benefits will finally be extended to couples living in those states.

Which raises the question that so many couples consider prior to entering into a union – how will my benefits and overall financial stability be impacted if we divorce? Now that same-sex marriages are finally on equal footing as their heterosexual counterparts in the State of Illinois, are there any particular economic considerations that should be documented in a prenuptial?

Now and In The Future

As of June 2014, the State of Illinois recognizes marriages between same-sex couples. Outside of the states that are still in contention, there are no extraordinary steps that must be taken into consideration: on paper, in the courtroom and in the community at large, same-sex marriages are bound to the same rules and regulations as every other marriage.

However, because of the relative newness of this action for everyone involved – couples, courts and lawmakers – recently married individuals may wish to consider a prenuptial agreement to ensure each others way of life goes relatively unaltered, should disputes arise. A dedicated family law firm such as Nottage and Ward, LLP can help you weigh your options and consider some of the following:

Wealth Management: In many instances, couples have spent years, if not decades, waiting for their opportunity to tie-the-knot. In that time, the two individuals may have amassed a sizeable retirement, equity holdings or investment portfolio – it may be in their best interest to settle on how these previously established items will be distributed before exchanging vows.

Business Opportunities: Similar to individual savings, in some instances a couple may jointly or individually own a business. This business could be relatively new or in the family’s name for some time; in either case, it would be wise to consider how the business would be split up or retained should the couple ever separate.

Custody: As opposed to marriage rights, same-sex couples have enjoyed the ability to adopt and raise children together for some time in the State of Illinois. With the introduction of a marriage license, couples will no longer need to work around certain stipulations to complete the process. At the same time, child custody is one of the most hotly contested topics in a divorce. Same-sex couples entering into a new marriage, with long standing parental relationships in place, may wish to consider making provision for certain financial arrangements related to children in the event of divorce or death.

Prenuptial Questions?

If you and your partner are considering a prenuptial agreement and have particular concerns, give the family law specialists at Nottage and Ward, LLP a call today.

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