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West Dundee, IL847-428-7725
St. Charles, IL630-200-4882
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Kane County prenuptial agreement lawyersAlthough they are becoming more popular, only 5-10 percent of U.S. couples who marry draft prenuptial agreements. Once considered to be only for the wealthy, a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can save a couple not only time and money but also mental anguish from disputes over property or asset division if they choose to divorce later. These legal documents let couples decide how they would like their marital property to be divided, as well as other considerations. However, there may be situations where a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement may be deemed invalid and therefore unenforceable. If you are considering working with your partner to plan ahead, it is best to learn what to include in these types of agreements and what would make them null and void. 

Premarital Considerations

A prenuptial agreement, or “prenup” is a legal document that an engaged couple can create to determine how they will address property, assets, debts, and other financial issues throughout their marriage and if they decide to divorce at any time. With this approach, property can be divided in the way the spouses wish. For example, they could choose a 60/40 or 70/30 percentage split.
As many other states did, Illinois adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA), which contains rules that dictate how courts decide whether a prenuptial agreement is enforceable. All prenuptial agreements must be put in writing and signed by both spouses for it to be enforceable. They do not need a witness to sign, and it does not have to be recorded with the court’s clerk. However, it is important to know that a court is more inclined to enforce the prenup if it can be proven that each spouse had prior knowledge of each other’s finances before signing it.

Postnuptial Factors

In some cases, a couple may not have considered a prenuptial agreement or did not have time to draft one if they had a short courtship before tying the knot. In these cases, a postnuptial agreement (postnup) may be an option. A postnup is a legal contract between spouses that defines what happens if the marriage ultimately ends. It can also be beneficial for those who are married and plan to stay together even after experiencing problems in their relationship, such as infidelity. 

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Kane County family law attorneysThe National Domestic Violence Hotline (NDVH) received its five millionth call in May of this year. This statistic shows how prevalent domestic violence can be in relationships. In many cases, the victimized person may fear for his or her safety on a daily basis. However, he or she may also be afraid to leave an abusive spouse or partner. Domestic violence can take many different forms. These can include physical harm, verbal threats or harassment, and more. Sometimes making that first call for help is the most difficult step in the process to escape an abusive situation. It is important to understand what behavior constitutes abuse so you can recognize it and seek legal orders of protection. 

Illinois Domestic Violence Law

Domestic violence is considered a crime in Illinois. Any individual who hits, kicks, chokes, harasses, threatens, or interferes with the personal liberty of another family or household member violates the Illinois Domestic Violence law. Illinois law defines family or household members as:

  • Family members who are related by blood;
  • A married or divorced couple;
  • People who share or previously resided in the same home;
  • People who have a child in common;
  • People who are current or former dating or engaged partners; and
  • People with disabilities and their caretakers.
  • Forms of Domestic Abuse

Although physical abuse is the most recognizable form of domestic violence, it is just one of many forms of it. Domestic violence encompasses:

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Kane County family law attorneysAdoption is a wonderful way to expand a family and give a child a loving home. The road to achieving this dream can be a long process, but well worth it. In certain situations, a couple may wish to adopt a relative if the child’s biological parents die or are unable to care for the child. In other cases, a person may want to adopt a stepchild after getting remarried. The procedures for related adoptions are different than traditional domestic or international adoptions, so it is important to learn the requirements before embarking on this journey.   

How Are Related Adoptions Different From Other Adoptions?

Unlike domestic or international adoptions, related (also called “kinship”) and stepparent adoptions are typically handled in a more streamlined process in the courts. In the majority of cases, background checks, family investigations, and home visits by the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS) are not required. To initiate a relative or stepparent adoption, all of the following must be true:

  • The stepparent relationship must be legally established (the stepparent’s marriage to the child’s birth parent is valid);
  • The child consents to the adoption, if he or she is at least 14 years old; and
  • The child’s other parent consents to the adoption and termination of his or her parental rights, or such rights are terminated by a judge.

In a relative or stepparent adoption, the other biological parent’s rights must be terminated before the stepparent can legally adopt his/her spouse’s child. If the other parent contests the adoption, grounds for terminating the other’s parental rights must be proven. Possible grounds can include the following:

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Kane County adoption lawyerMany couples choose adoption as a way to expand their family if they cannot have biological children of their own. On the other side of the subject, some parents choose to give up their child for adoption if they cannot adequately provide for the child’s needs.

Regardless of the reasons for an adoption, it is one of the biggest decisions that anyone will make in their lifetime. In some situations, an adoption can be contested. In the majority of cases, this happens when the biological father does not know about the child until the adoption process already started, or in which a biological father changes his mind about the adoption while it is in progress. 

Consent and Best Interest Hearings 

In cases where an adoption is contested, all involved parties must attend a consent hearing in court at which time a judge will listen to evidence presented by both sides. For instances when the biological father contests an adoption, he does not give consent to the adoption and he declares that he is willing and able to assume legal responsibility of the child. During the hearing, the father can show examples of his actions throughout the pregnancy, as well as after the child’s birth. For example, pictures or documentation of him going to doctor appointments or at the hospital after the birth, etc. However, if the biological father does not provide child support or contact the child for more than a year, he may lose his right to contest the adoption on the grounds of abandonment.

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St. Charles family law attorneyMost couples do not enter into marriage thinking they are going to get a divorce. However, many married people do decide to split up for various reasons. Even if divorce seems unlikely, it is a good idea to make plans for how certain issues will be addressed if a marriage ever ends. A postnuptial agreement is a written agreement drafted between two married spouses or two people who have entered a civil union. This type of agreement functions as a legal contract, and it can outline what will happen to the couple's assets if they separate or get divorced. It may also decide whether either party will receive spousal maintenance (alimony), and it can address what will happen with marital property after the death of one spouse. A postnuptial agreement is similar to a prenuptial agreement (or “prenup”), except it is created after a couple gets married rather than before they tie the knot.

Pros and Cons of Postnuptial Agreements

One of the main reasons a couple creates a postnuptial agreement is to ensure that assets such as property, finances, and even debts are distributed equally after a divorce. Making decisions about ownership of property ahead of time can help avoid conflict during the divorce process. A postnuptial document can also be helpful if children are involved, as it may be used to ensure that they have financial security for their future. For example, if your children want to attend college or a trade school, a set amount of marital assets can be set aside to go toward their tuition, room, and board.   

While a postnuptial agreement can be beneficial, it can also present problems, especially if a spouse signs the agreement without fully understanding the terms. In some cases, a person may even sign an agreement against their will or after being coerced into doing so by their spouse. This can complicate the divorce process later if a spouse tries to contest the agreement.

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