What You Need to Know About Contesting a Prenuptial Agreement
Hollywood is accustomed to ugly divorces. In 2018, Jersey Shore actor Jenni “JWoww” Farley filed for divorce from her husband, Roger Matthews, and now Matthews is contesting the validity of the couple’s prenuptial agreement. While the concerns of reality TV stars do not apply to most of us, any couple can have a prenuptial agreement. If you are going through a divorce, and you have a prenup, you will want to be sure to understand how Illinois law will apply to your case, including whether your prenuptial agreement can be contested.
Prenuptial Agreement Laws in Illinois
The Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act governs all prenuptial agreements filed in the state of Illinois. This law states that to be enforceable, both parties must agree to the prenup and sign it. The agreement will go into effect on the couple’s wedding day.
The Illinois statute includes some provisions on what is unlawful to include in a prenuptial agreement. These include any terms that violate public policy or criminal statutes. Spouses are also not allowed to waive the right to receive child support or agree that a parent will not be required to pay his or her child support obligations.
Unenforceable Prenuptial Agreements
A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract between the two spouses. As with other types of contracts, the validity of a prenup can be contested. In some cases, an Illinois court may find portions of a prenuptial agreement unenforceable without invalidating the entire agreement. The court may strike the unenforceable portions and determine the rest of the agreement is valid. In other cases, the court may deem the entire agreement to be unenforceable.
According to the statute, a prenuptial agreement is invalid when:
- The couple did not sign the agreement prior to getting married;
- One individual only signed the agreement due to pressure, duress, or coercion; or
- The marriage is deemed void or invalid for any reason.
In addition to these reasons, a court may also consider a prenuptial agreement invalid if it is considered unconscionable. This means that the agreement is exceptionally unfair to one party. When the contesting party is claiming the agreement is unconscionable, he or she must prove:
- The other party did not properly disclose assets, property or debts;
- The contesting party did not waive the right to receive disclosure of the other party’s full financial situation; and
- The contesting party did not know, or could not have reasonably known, about the extent of the other party’s finances.
Finally, a court may choose not to enforce provisions of a prenup related to spousal maintenance, such as a reduction or elimination of the support that a spouse would be eligible to receive. These terms of an agreement may be unenforceable if it would cause undue hardship to the party receiving maintenance, and this hardship was not reasonably foreseeable to the parties at the time the prenup was created.
Consult with a Mt. Prospect Divorce Lawyer Before Contesting a Prenup
In Illinois, divorcing spouses may be able to contest a prenuptial agreement. The law provides many instances in which a prenup may be found to be unenforceable. However, those wishing to contest their agreement should always speak to a dedicated Palatine family law attorney first. If you have a prenuptial agreement with your spouse that you would like to challenge, call Nicholas W. Richardson at 847.873.6741. Attorney Richardson will help resolve the matter while advocating for your interests in court. Do not settle for a prenup with which you do not agree. Call our office today for your free consultation.