Enforceability of Prenuptial Agreements
Two Recent Cases May Clarify Issue
As Stephanie Tang writes in the December 2018 issue of the ISBA’s section on Family Law, two September 2018 cases may clarify the criteria courts will consider when determining enforceability of a prenuptial agreement.
In In re Marriage of Woodrum, 2018 IL App (3d) 170369, both parties executed a premarital agreement less than two weeks before marrying on July 29, 2007. Both parties were represented by counsel and both parties executed an asset disclosure although Husband’s disclosure failed to list a value of a residence and his business interests. Wife claimed she did not read the agreement prior to signing it.
In determining if the agreement was enforceable, the court relied heavily on the plain language of 750 ILCS 10/7 of the Illinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act which provides that for an agreement to be unenforceable, the challenging party must prove they did not execute the agreement voluntarily, or the agreement was unconscionable when executed and before execution, that party 1) was not provided a fair and reasonable disclosure of assets/financial obligations of the other party; 2) did not execute a written waiver of the disclosure; and 3) did not have/reasonably could not have had an adequate knowledge of the property/financial obligations of the other party. The court emphasized that just because a party may leave out the value of an asset or fail to disclose an asset, does not automatically mean the agreement is unenforceable. The court further found that Wife lived with Husband for six years prior to entering into the agreement and was familiar with his financial obligations and assets. Finally, the court found that Wife was represented by competent counsel and had the opportunity to read the agreement prior to signing.
In In re Marriage of Kranzler, 2018 IL App (1st) 171169, the court considered both whether the agreement was unconscionable and whether the trial court had subject matter jurisdiction over the case. The parties were married on the same day they executed the agreement but the agreement was circulated for several weeks prior. Wife was pregnant at the time. Both parties were represented by counsel and the final agreement provided that Husband would leave Wife a percentage of his net estate depending on how long they were married, as well as an amount certain per month.
In making her argument regarding duress of signing the agreement, Wife relied in part on the fact that she faced pressure from her father and her fiancé’s father to enter the agreement. However, she did not make any contention that she felt any pressure from her fiancé himself. The court ultimately found that Wife failed to present evidence that the fathers’ attempts to convince their children to marry deprived her of her free will when signing the agreement.
If you have questions about a premarital agreement or any other family law issues call SAXE LAW today at (224) 800-1351 to schedule a consultation.