Resolving a high net worth divorce can be complex, and contentious disagreements may occur when dividing substantial wealth and assets. One way to mitigate conflict and avoid protractive litigation is to have a prenuptial agreement in place. A prenuptial agreement, also referred to as a prenup, is a legal contract entered into by couples before marriage that determines how their financial affairs will be handled in the event of divorce or death. A family law attorney with experience assisting people who have a high net worth can help ensure that a prenup will be applied and enforced correctly during the divorce process.
The Purpose of a Prenuptial Agreement
Prenuptial agreements serve several purposes when it comes to high asset divorces:
- Protecting separate property: When one or both spouses enter the marriage with considerable assets, they may want to ensure that these assets will remain separate property in case of divorce. A prenup can specify which assets will or not be subject to division.
- Decisions about asset division: In high asset divorces, there are often complex investments, businesses, real estate properties, and other valuable assets that will need to be addressed. A prenup can outline how different types of assets will be divided between the spouses.
- Addressing spousal support: Prenups can include provisions regarding whether spousal support (also known as alimony) will be paid by one spouse to the other. This can help ensure that neither spouse will face excessive financial burdens after the marriage ends.
- Safeguarding business interests: For people who own businesses or professional practices prior to getting married, a prenup can protect those business interests from being subject to division during divorce proceedings.
The Impact on Property Division
A well-drafted prenuptial agreement can have a significant impact on how property is divided in a high net worth divorce. Without a prenup, assets acquired during the marriage are subject to equitable distribution, which means they will be divided fairly. Illinois law does not require marital property to be divided equally, and determining how much each spouse should receive can lead to costly litigation during the divorce process.
However, if there is a valid prenuptial agreement in place that addresses property division, the terms of the agreement will generally supersede state laws. As long as the agreement was entered into voluntarily with full disclosure and without coercion or duress, a court will most likely uphold its provisions.
It is important to note that a prenup cannot override certain legal obligations, such as child support, and it cannot make decisions about child custody. The best interests of a couple’s children will always take precedence over any agreements that were made between the parents prior to getting married.
The Role of Legal Representation
Given the complexity and high stakes involved in high asset divorces, it is crucial to work with an experienced family law attorney who can help address complex financial matters. A lawyer can review a prenuptial agreement and provide guidance on how it will apply when dividing marital assets. This can help ensure that a couple will be able to minimize conflict and resolve financial concerns related to the assets they own.
If necessary, an attorney can also determine whether a prenup may be invalid and unenforceable. For instance, if the agreement was signed under duress or there was fraud or misrepresentation during its creation, an attorney can help a spouse challenge its validity in court. A lawyer will work to protect their client’s interests and ensure that they will be able to receive a fair share of their marital assets.
Contact a DuPage County High Net Worth Divorce Attorney
If you are facing a high asset divorce and have a prenuptial agreement, it is essential to work with an experienced family law attorney who understands the best ways to address the legal and financial issues related to your marital property and other aspects of your divorce. At Mirabella, Kincaid, Frederick & Mirabella, LLC., our Wheaton prenuptial agreement lawyers can make sure your prenup will be applied correctly, and we will advocate for your interests as you work to resolve various divorce-related issues. Contact us at 630-665-7300 to schedule a consultation.