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Can a premarital agreement prevent an alimony award?

Before you and your spouse married in Illinois, you sat down and talked about the future of your finances together. Both of you agreed that if you divorce, neither of you should have to pay alimony. However, now that you are facing the split, your spouse is saying that agreement will not hold up in court.

Is that true? It may be if one or more of the following factors is relevant:

1. If your spouse did not voluntarily sign the agreement

Illinois law states that your prenup may be invalid if your spouse can prove that the signature was not provided of his or her own free will. It may not be easy for your spouse to prove this convincingly to the court, though.

2. If the agreement is unconscionable

Was your agreement unreasonable or excessively one-sided? If the court believes this, then you may have to say goodbye to your alimony waiver. 

3. If you did not tell the truth about your property and/or debts

The whole agreement may be void if you lied about how much money or property you had, or how much you owe, and your spouse had no way of knowing you did not tell the truth. 

4. If your spouse will suffer undue hardship without the alimony

Maybe your spouse is worried that without alimony, he or she will have no way of paying basic living expenses. If there is a question of your spouse being self-supporting after the divorce, the judge may decide that you should pay, even though your spouse originally agreed to waive the support. The judge has quite a bit of discretion in deciding whether your spouse's circumstances constitute an undue hardship, though. Simply being unable to afford the same standard of living that you enjoy may not be enough.

Because so many of the circumstances involving an alimony waiver in a premarital agreement are unique, this general information should not be interpreted as legal advice.

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