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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, IL child custody lawyerNearly any marriage can benefit from a prenuptial agreement. What was once considered a taboo or only for the uber-wealthy, prenuptial agreements are now being used by more and more everyday couples. In the event that you get a divorce, a prenuptial agreement can help you decide how your property is divided, whether or not you receive spousal support, or even who gets custody of your pets. Sometimes, however, you may no longer find that your prenuptial agreement is right for your situation when it comes time to divorce. Can you contest the terms of your prenuptial agreement?

Challenging Your Prenup

Prenuptial agreements are documents that are supposed to make your divorce process easier, not more difficult. However, if you believe that your prenuptial agreement should be invalidated, your divorce has the possibility of getting even more contentious. This is when it is crucial for you to hire experienced legal counsel.

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Posted on in Divorce

Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, IL child custody lawyerThe Oscar-nominated movie, Marriage Story, starring Scarlett Johansson and Adam Driver, offers insight and advice regarding marriage and divorce. The film focuses on real-life issues within a relationship and offers teachable lessons for those who are ending their marriages.

The critically-acclaimed film has won rave reviews because of its realistic and often gut-wrenching portrayal of a couple whose love for each other disintegrates into divorce. And just like many real-life couples, the main characters first agree that they will bypass legal battles and have a "friendly divorce," however, both end up hiring divorce attorneys. As the film reveals, even the friendliest of breakups can become contentious and attorneys are needed to make sure the divorce process is as fair as possible for both spouses.

How Divorce Attorneys Make a Difference

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, IL child custody lawyerWhen a couple decides to get married, they usually agree to share what they own. If the marriage were to end in divorce, the marital estate is divided under the equitable distribution doctrine. Unlike community property states, which divide the couple's assets in a 50/50 division, Illinois law says the couple's assets need to be divided equitably based on certain factors. Some of these factors include:

  • How long the couple was married
  • Each spouse's contribution to the marital estate
  • The value of the assets
  • What each spouse's financial circumstances will be after the divorce
  • Tax implications
  • Whether spousal support will be paid
One factor that usually supersedes all other factors is whether the couple had a valid prenuptial agreement. A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract entered into by the couple prior to the marriage which stipulates how assets and property will be divided in the event the couple divorces. The agreement can also address any outstanding debt the couple has and spousal support/maintenance. Although it is recommended that every couple draw up a prenuptial agreement before the wedding, many couples choose not to. The good news for those couples is that Illinois law also recognizes postnuptial agreements. Postnuptial agreements address the same terms and/or issues that prenuptial agreements do. The only difference is that the agreement is entered into at some point after the couple has married.

Reasons Why Married Couples Choose to Sign a Postnuptial Agreement

In certain marital situations, signing a postnuptial agreement is highly recommended. Typically, postnuptial agreements are established because of the following:

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, IL child custody lawyerDivorce is a long and demanding process, but can get even more complex for high net worth couples. Unlike traditional divorces, high net worth couples must resolve issues dealing with complex taxation, support obligations, tracing of assets including offshore and international accounts, and valuation of businesses and other properties.

The following factors will help you prepare for what you might experience within your high net worth divorce:

1.    More assets, more to divide. Prior to your divorce, it is important to gather all tax (tax returns, W-9’s, I-9’s), financial, and property/asset documentation regardless of your knowledge on the subject. Documents tend to get lost after the divorce has already been filed, making this process more difficult and could put you at a disadvantage in divorce negotiations.

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Illinois divorce attorney, Illinois family lawyer, Illinois collaborative divorce lawyerSome people may not realize that money they put into a retirement account, like a 401(k) or IRA, during their marriage is not theirs alone. When the marriage ends in divorce, those retirement funds will likely need to be split just like every other asset and debt the couple has acquired while they were married. In order to avoid paying large fees on a retirement plan withdrawal, the couple will likely need a QDRO (qualified domestic relations order). An attorney can help walk the parties through the process, as it can get a little bit complicated.

What Is a QDRO?

A QDRO is an official decree, which must be approved by a judge, that orders one party to transfer funds from his or her retirement plan to the other divorcing party. Information that must be included in the QDRO includes the plan participant’s name and either a specific amount or percentage of the benefits that are to be paid to the other party.

The party who is receiving the funds must then receive the money as if he or she was the owner of the plan. Then the payee may use the money as needed, which will result in taxes charged to the receiver of the money, or he or she may roll it over into another plan, which makes the transaction tax-free.

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