Increasingly, signing a prenuptial agreement before saying “I do” appears to be far from uncommon for Illinois couples. Less common, however, is the sunset provision. A sunset provision can provide an expiration date for a prenuptial agreement or mandate that certain assets not be included in asset division if a marriage didn’t last long enough. If the couple remains married for a set amount of time according to a sunset provision before dividing to divorce, the agreement may no longer be enforceable. 

Because of the varying terms of a sunset provision, prenuptial agreements shouldn’t simply be tucked away in a dusty old drawer after signing on the dotted line. Instead, it can be helpful to check up on the agreement at regular intervals to ensure that all of its provisions are still applicable. If one spouse is suddenly worth much more or the other loses a job, changes may be necessary. In other instances, a couple may enter into a divorce with no idea that their agreement was expired.

Comedian Chris Rock recently asserted that the sunset provision in his prenuptial agreement means that it has expired. He and Malaak Compton-Rock signed the agreement back in 1996, but it’s not known when it allegedly expired during the course of their 18-year-long marriage. What the prenuptial agreement actually addressed was not made clear.

Just as a prenuptial agreement can make sense for securing important assets in a divorce, sunset provisions can provide an added layer of protection. This type of provision can mandate that a spouse only be entitled to a certain percentage of their ex’s assets, but that the amount may increase should the couple have a child or remain married for a certain number of years. No two couples in Illinois are alike, but for many a prenuptial agreement can help ensure that their unique needs and wishes are addressed.

Source:, “Chris Rock’s divorce offers lessons in divorce planning“, Darla Mercado Careers Subscribe, Dec. 30, 2014