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b2ap3_thumbnail_Prenuptial-Agreement2_640.jpgA significant number of couples in this day and age execute premarital agreements—also called prenuptial agreements—to help settle any potentially thorny issues before their marriage. However, not every premarital agreement can be implemented as written. Some provisions are contrary to existing laws, and some are contrary to what is referred to as public policy. It can be more difficult to establish that something is against public policy, but it can be done, and if an agreement is found to violate public policy, it may be declared void.

Defining Public Policy

Public policy is defined as the principle or legal tenet that detracting from the “public good” is an event to be avoided. In other words, if an action shocks the conscience or the sensibilities of the general public, it is generally to be avoided because the public should be protected from injury if possible. This commonly comes up in issues of divorce and child custody, though public policy questions may appear in many different legal arenas. In Illinois, the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act governs such issues in regard to prenuptial contracts.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_prenuptial-agreement6_640.jpgIn this day and age, more and more couples are signing prenuptial agreements before they wed to safeguard their own interests if the marriage fails. The mere act of creating a document like a prenuptial agreement is not sufficient to ensure its validity, however; certain provisions in the document can actually render the entire agreement null and void. Doing some research can help ensure that yours remains valid.

A Change in Property Distribution Rules

While prenuptial agreements—also known as prenups—have become more popular in general, Illinois law has helped contribute to a specific uptick in their use. Before the substantial reforms to the Illinois Marriage and Dissolution of Marriage Act (IMDMA) which took effect in January of last year, property purchased “in contemplation of marriage” was normally held to be marital property and, therefore, subject to the state’s equitable distribution laws. After modification, this was changed significantly, with the law holding that just because property was purchased or received in contemplation of marriage, it did not make that property marital. Thus, a private agreement is often necessary in order to equitably distribute such property.

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Posted on in Family Law

b2ap3_thumbnail_divorce_640_20170912-182941_1.jpgAccording to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, 40% of both men and women have been victims of “coercive control” by their significant other. This is a form of domestic violence which is rarely talked about but is sadly common. Abuse in a relationship does not always involve physical acts like hitting and pushing. Often, abuse perpetuated by a significant other is psychological. The term “coercive control” refers to acts of manipulation, harassment, and humiliation which are meant to tear down an individual’s sense of independence and to make the victim question his or her own sanity. One of these tactics is “gaslighting.”

What Is Gaslighting?

The term “gaslighting” traces its roots to a 1938 play and 1944 movie called Gas Light in which a husband emotionally manipulates and abuses his wife. Individuals who gaslight use psychological tactics to make the victim feel as if they “are going crazy.” Abusers often deny that events or conversations occurred, make up stories and lies, and isolate their victims from friends and family. The behavior is meant to gain control over the victim by making them question their own thoughts and beliefs.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_paternity_600x400.jpgAcross the country, it is becoming increasingly popular for couples to move in together long before they intend to get married. For some, cohabitation is a stepping stone to marriage, while others a placing less emphasis on ever officially tying the knot. This may lead one to believe that there would a corresponding increase in the number of children born to unmarried parents, but the numbers, it seems, tell a different story. In fact, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) has reported that the percentage of first-time fathers who are unmarried is at its lowest point in decades.

Fewer Unmarried Dads

The CDC based its report on data from the National Survey of Family Growth. Researchers used surveys of both women and men between the ages of 15 and 44. The surveys came from three different decades: 1980-1989, 1990-1999 and 2000-2009. According to the survey’s findings, the downward trend in unmarried fathers has been ongoing since the 1980s, when 42 percent of first-time fathers under the age of 44 were unmarried. In the 1990s, that number was at 40 percent.

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b2ap3_thumbnail_guardianship.jpgCouples who are considering marriage often move in together long before the wedding takes place. In many cases, a couple may even begin cohabiting before marriage is even seriously discussed. As cultural trends and social morals have evolved over the last few decades, the idea of living with a romantic partner prior to marriage is more commonly accepted than it once was. Moving in together before getting married, however, can also impact financial and property concerns, especially if the couple marries and eventually gets divorced.

Marital Property Defined

In the process of divorce, Illinois law requires a couple’s marital property to be divided equitably between the spouses. The law also provides a definition of marital property as any assets or debts acquired by either spouse during the marriage. Limited exceptions generally include property received as a gift or inheritance to one spouse. Property that was acquired before the marriage is non-marital property and will remain under the ownership of the spouse who acquired it.

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