In his recent divorce that received wide publicity in Illinois, Eliot Spitzer ended up paying his former spouse $7.5 million up front and agreed to pay her $240,000 annually in spousal support until she remarries or dies. One thing that can be learned from his experience is that it may be a good idea to enter into a prenuptial agreement prior to getting married.
For those who do opt for the prenuptial agreement, it is better if the agreement is completed well before the wedding. An agreement that is signed days before a wedding could be nullified by the court on grounds that it was signed under duress. It is also important to have the agreement in writing, and each party should be represented by separate counsel.
Although some people may not like the thought of signing a prenuptial agreement, state law regarding property and asset division is almost like having such an agreement made for you. In some cases, being able to modify and customize a prenup can work in favor of both parties. When divorce rates for first marriages are 50 percent and subsequent marriages end at a rate of almost 70 percent, they can be useful for those who wish to protect their assets.
In a divorce proceeding, Illinois courts follow the principle of equitable distribution when determining how to split up marital property. In the absence of an agreement between the parties, the court will make the division in a matter that it deems fair, which is not necessarily equal. This is why it is sometimes preferable to come into the marriage with a prenuptial agreement that takes these decisions out of the hands of judges.