When a party desires to challenge a prenuptial agreement in Illinois, different standards apply depending on when the parties entered into the agreement. The principles of the Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (“IUPAA”) govern any agreement executed on or after January 1, 1990, while common law controls any prior agreements.
A premarital agreement covered under common law will generally be upheld if both parties entered into it voluntarily, possessed full knowledge of the other’s finances prior to signing, the agreement was deemed fair and reasonable at the time of signing and it does not create an unforeseen state of poverty.
An agreement under the terms of the IUPAA stresses that a party seeking to invalidate an agreement must prove that he or she did not sign the agreement voluntarily or that at the time of execution, the agreement was unconscionable in terms of being improvident, one-sided, or oppressive. Furthermore, the seemingly ‘duped’ party must show that he or she was not provided with a fair and reasonable disclosure of the property or financial obligations of the other party and did not voluntarily waive the right to disclosure of such beyond what was provided. The party must prove they could not have not possessed adequate financial knowledge otherwise.
The provisions under the IUPAA are more stringent than common law, since one objective of the Act is to make challenges to the validity of agreements more difficult. Agreements under common law must be fair and reasonable, while IUPAA standards do not automatically invalidate unconscionable agreements if all parties received full disclosure of the financial picture before voluntarily signing. A party that knowingly enters into an unconscionable agreement under IUPAA standards will likely be bound by the bargain despite the lopsided result.
That being said, it does not mean a spouse can’t get more than the prenup offers. In many high-profile divorces of late, spouses were able to negotiate a larger settlement despite the the parameters set in the prenuptial agreement. Oftentimes, a premarital agreement is a place to work from… not the ‘end-all-be-all’ when dividing marital assets. If you have questions regarding prenuptial/premarital agreements or have other family law related issues, contact he Law Offices of Schlesinger & Strauss, LLC for help.