It's fairly common for couples planning to tie the knot in Illinois to assume prenuptial agreements are for individuals with significant assets they wish to protect before marrying. However, it's also possible for a prenup to provide much-appreciated protections for couples of average means getting ready to walk down the aisle.
The creation of a prenuptial agreement provides an incentive for both parties to disclose available assets and existing debts. Taking this step before marriage could minimize legal disputes in the event of a divorce and reduce the financial burden that often comes with the end of a marriage. If properly structured, a prenup can also clearly establish what was separate property going into a marriage, which could reduce frustration over trying to find supporting documents proving sole ownership of certain assets if a marriage ends later.
Another option with a mutually acceptable prenup is for couples to do an annual disclosure of assets during the marriage. Taking this step may prevent surprises if a divorce occurs, such as hidden accounts or undisclosed gambling or credit card debt. Since divorce agreements don't legally bind creditors, being aware of existing debt can make it easier for both spouses to start a new life post-marriage. A well-crafted prenup can even go a step further and establish guidelines for how assets acquired during a marriage would be divided. Debt responsibility can also be established with appropriate wording in a prenup.
Even though a prenup may include an asset and liability disclosure that requires both parties to be upfront about their financial situation, a divorce lawyer might bring in a forensic accountant if a spouse suspects that their soon-to-be-ex wasn't entirely forthcoming about their assets and debt obligations. An attorney may also challenge some of the terms included in a prenup if they are no longer fair or reasonable.