Many people get married with fears that their spouse won’t live up to their expectations once the wedding is over. “What if my spouse cheats on me?” would certainly be a common concern. Other worries might be financial in nature (“What if my spouse quits his/her job?”) or even aesthetic (“What if my spouse gains a lot of weight?”)
More and more, these kinds of concerns are finding their way into prenuptial agreements. That’s right – before saying “I do,” there are many couples who sign agreements with clauses such as, “If the husband has an extramarital affair, he will have to pay the wife $500,000.” (In fact, that particular clause is widely rumored to be part of the prenuptial agreement that Justin Timberlake and Jessica Biel signed before getting married.)
Do Courts Uphold These Clauses?
These kinds of clauses are often referred to as “lifestyle clauses.” (Lifestyle clauses that deal with extramarital affairs are sometimes referred to as “infidelity clauses.”) Whether they can be enforced in court depends on both the clause itself, and the jurisdiction in which you live. The enforceability of lifestyle clauses is up in the air in the state of Illinois – there hasn’t yet been a court ruling that would set a precedent in these matters.
Even if you can’t be sure that a lifestyle clause will be enforced in the event you get divorced, it can still be helpful to your marriage. Many couples make the mistake of getting married without fully understanding what each spouse expects from the other. If you’ve sat down and discussed what specifically is important to you, and you’ve promised that you’ll meet each other’s expectations, you may be less likely to betray those expectations. (Also, the mere possibility that a court will force you to make a payment to your spouse if you violate the clause may be enough to convince you to adhere to it.)
These sorts of agreements are often seen as distasteful – and there’s no guarantee that your fiancé won’t walk out the door the moment you propose one. But as lifestyle clauses soar in popularity, the stigma associated with them seems to be diminishing. Prenuptial agreements themselves were once seen as shocking, but there is now much greater awareness of how much they can simplify the divorce process, and protect the interests of both spouses.
If the enforceability of the clause is important to you, there are ways to improve the chances that a court will find your clause to be valid. In general, clauses in contracts are often challenged due to their vagueness. If your concern is infidelity, it will help if you specifically describe what constitutes infidelity. If your concern is that your spouse will change his or her appearance, be sure that the clause lays out what specific changes would be unacceptable. The less confusion created by a lifestyle clause, the better.
Finding an Attorney to Help With Your Prenuptial Agreement
A skilled matrimonial attorney will be able to help you create a prenuptial agreement that meets the needs of you and your soon-to-be spouse. You can contact the family law attorneys at Fay, Farrow & Associates, P.C. in Naperville, Illinois, today, by calling us at (630) 961-0060. We are prepared to help you in any way we can.