Do Prenuptial Agreements Expire?
Unless you have a specific clause in your prenuptial agreement stating an expiration date, prenups do not expire. Instead, your prenuptial agreement will remain valid for as long as you are married unless both parties consent to an amendment or revocation. If you divorce, your prenuptial agreement will be referred to when reaching a divorce settlement.
According to the Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, a prenuptial agreement takes effect upon marriage. If you develop a prenuptial agreement with your fiancé(e) and then decide not to get married, the prenuptial agreement never takes effect and is void.
What Are Sunset Clauses & Do I Need One?
A sunset clause is a clause in a prenuptial agreement that sets a time (usually after a set number of years) for the prenup to expire. For example, some couples elect to include a clause in their prenup that says if they are still married after 25 years, the prenuptial agreement is invalid. While some people like the idea of a sunset clause, you should speak with your attorney before including one.
In many cases, it is better to update or amend your prenup after some time than to let it expire with a sunset clause. Because prenups are designed to be mutually beneficial and protect both parties, having one in place is often preferable to relying on state divorce laws. Prenups give you and your spouse greater control, and you may not agree with how the state handles things like property division and spousal support. Ideally, your marriage will never end, but if it does, it may be in your best interest to have a prenup in place.
Why You Should Review Your Prenuptial Agreement
Most people sign their prenup and then forget all about it. 20, 30 years can go by without ever revisiting it. However, your life likely looks very different after 30 years than it did when the prenuptial agreement was first drafted. People switch jobs, property is sold and acquired, and sometimes one person will stop working altogether when children are born. Furthermore, priorities and values can shift over time. What was important to you and your spouse when you first married may no longer be important to you a decade into your marriage. If something were to happen and you were forced to adhere to your original prenup, you may both end up unhappy and dissatisfied.
With this in mind, it’s always a good idea to brush off the dust and at least review your prenuptial agreement. Every ten years is a good rule of thumb.
What Should I Look for When Updating My Prenup?
When the time comes to review your prenuptial agreement, you should thoroughly review what is already existing in the prenup. You should also consider other aspects of your life that are perhaps not currently represented.
Things to consider when updating a prenup include:
- Marital and separate property
- Debts, shared and individual
- Spousal support issues
- Property that has been acquired since the marriage
- Need of children from previous relationships
While you cannot address things like custody of shared children in a prenuptial agreement, you and your spouse should actively consider how the conditions in your prenuptial agreement potentially impact child-rearing and child support should you separate.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
To make any changes to your prenup, you will require the written consent of both parties. It is strongly recommended that you each work with your own lawyers during this process to ensure that your amendments are legally valid and that they will hold up in court should the time come. There are many reasons why a judge might find a prenuptial agreement problematic, including those that significantly disadvantage one spouse and those signed under duress without adequate legal representation for both parties. By having a lawyer, you can ensure that your best interests are being prioritized, and you can work to avoid potential future problems.
If you are considering amending or updating your prenuptial agreement, reach out to the Law Offices of Jonathan Merel, P.C. Our attorneys are highly experienced and are prepared to help you and your family today.