While most commonly used to protect individual financial assets in the event of a divorce, prenuptial agreements can also be used to address and settle other upcoming areas of disagreement that occur during marriage. For example, they may give couples a tool for settling disagreements about where the couple will live and how the couple must care for their own children, or even how to support children from a prior marriage.
Lifestyle Clause as New Addition
A section that is showing up more and more often in prenuptial agreements is the lifestyle clause, a portion of the agreement that sets forth how a couple agrees to live their life together. Lifestyle clauses can set forth how many hours each partner agrees to work each week, how frequently a couple will have intercourse, and whether or not the couple will choose to have or adopt children. Media outlets have referenced more seemingly invasive lifestyle clauses that aim to control how much weight a spouse can gain, how much time a couple will spend with in-laws, and how many nights per week a partner can spend watching football with friends.
Lifestyle clauses operate much like any other clause in a prenuptial agreement. The clause sets forth an expectation one or both spouses should uphold and usually includes a penalty that a spouse agrees to incur if he or she violates the expectation. For example, a couple many insert an infidelity clause that makes one spouse financially responsible for paying all divorce filing fees if that spouse is ever caught cheating.
A Court May or May Not Enforce a Lifestyle Clause
In order to be enforceable, it is necessary for lifestyle clauses to be both reasonable and specific. An Illinois divorce court will not enforce a lifestyle clause if it fails to provide accurate guidance of the type of behavior that gives rise to a penalty. For example, a clause that requires a husband to keep up diligently with yard work may not be enforceable due in part to the vague terminology that is open to interpretation. Additionally, it is still uncertain whether most family law judges will agree to enforce lifestyle clauses if issues covered by them are ever brought to divorce court.
Regardless of whether the clause will be legally enforceable by a divorce law judge, a lifestyle clause can still be valuable in the event of an upcoming divorce. Insertion of the lifestyle clause into a prenuptial agreement illustrates the partners’ individual values, expectations, and priorities in their marriage. This can be helpful for a number of reasons. The clause provides a concrete record of a party’s prior priorities and values when going through more informal steps of a divorce process, such as during lawyer to lawyer negotiations, or in mediation or arbitration proceedings. In addition, parties participating in collaborative divorce, a process highly reliant on mutual honesty and cooperation, may want to point out alleged violations of a marital agreement during early stages of the negotiations.
Contact Our Attorneys for Assistance
If you are planning a marriage and would like to know how a prenuptial agreement can help protect your assets and your peace of mind during marriage, it may be helpful to consult with an DuPage County divorce and family law attorney about your options. Attorneys at Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. are experienced in drafting, enforcing and modifying marital agreements in and around the Cook and Dupage County areas. We encourage you to contact us today at (877) 889-4515 for more information.