Illinois residents who are getting married might want to consider having a prenuptial agreement. If they have children from a previous relationship, a business, or significant assets, the agreement may be particularly important. People whose spouses-to-be have significant debt might also want to do so because if they do not and the marriage ends in divorce, they might be liable for a portion of it.

Parents might be concerned about making sure that their children will inherit their assets, and a prenuptial agreement that ensures that the individual keeps those assets in case of divorce will help ensure this. A person who owns a business and who does not have a prenup might find themselves sharing the ownership of the business with their ex-spouse even when that spouse has no experience in or knowledge of the business.

Another advantage of a prenuptial agreement is that it gives couples the opportunity to have an honest conversation about money. Some celebrities have paid hefty prices when they did not prepare one. Heather Mills asked musician Paul McCartney for well over $200 million although she was ultimately awarded $49 million. Reports are that director Guy Ritchie received up to 20 percent of singer Madonna’s net worth for a total of $76 to $92 million.

If there is not a prenuptial agreement in place, then divorcing couples must either decide between themselves how they will divide property or they can go before a judge and let the court make the decision. Both approaches to property division have advantages and disadvantages. Negotiations might mean a couple comes to an agreement that suits them better, but emotions might lead them to make concessions they later regret. A judge may make a disinterested decision that seems fair, but individuals unhappy with the result may have no recourse to fight it.