Effectively Using Marital Agreements in Chicago


The subject of marital agreements always raises sensitive issues. Yet these agreements are a responsible and proactive step for married and engaged couples in Chicago of any economic standing. By settling many of your financial issues in advance in a thoughtful and dispassionate setting, you and your spouse can potentially stave off many of the money arguments that too frequently lead to divorce. Moreover, should a divorce become necessary, you can enjoy the confidence of knowing your rights in advance and avoiding protracted litigation over property issues. With more than 50 years of experience handling family law matters, our attorneys at Downs Law Offices know how to negotiate and draft marital agreements that accomplish our clients ' goals and protect their rights.


Under the Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA), parties may contract prior to their marriage through a prenuptial agreement - or during their marriage through a postnuptial agreement - to define their rights involving marital property should the marriage end in divorce. The contract can include stipulating what property is personal and what is marital, establishing how marital property will be divided and setting or waiving rights to spousal support. Marital agreements cannot set child custody rights. They also cannot waive any rights to child support, although they can establish additional child support rights beyond what the law requires, such as payment of higher education expenses.


Marital agreements give each spouse legally enforceable rights during the marriage and in case of divorce and can largely eliminate the need for negotiation or litigation regarding the equitable distribution of property. They can also sometimes reduce tension during a marriage by establishing in advance how marital finances will be managed. They do not wholly eliminate the need for a marital settlement agreement, since child custody and support issues must still be resolved.

The UPAA directs Illinois courts to enforce valid marital agreements except under a number of specific circumstances:

  • The agreement was executed under duress or was otherwise involuntary.
  • The agreement 's terms were unconscionable and the party to whom the agreement is unconscionable did not receive fair and reasonable disclosure of the other party's finances, did not knowingly and voluntarily waive such disclosure, and did not otherwise have knowledge of the other party's finances.

A court may also modify a valid marital agreement to some degree if unexpected circumstances arising after the execution of the agreement render it inequitable. Our Chicago attorneys can help you negotiate with your spouse to reach a fair agreement and then take the steps necessary to make that agreement enforceable.

Marital agreements benefit not only the wealthy, but people of all backgrounds and income levels. Our attorneys at Downs Law Offices can help you work with your spouse to address the issues important to you while still being cognizant of the sensitive nature of entering into such an agreement.

Compassionate counsel and practical guidance

Conveniently located in the Loop in Chicago, our offices offer proximity to public transit as well as onsite parking. Call Downs Law Offices today at 312-781-1963 or contact us online to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys. We offer evening and weekend appointments by special arrangement for your convenience.