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Lifestyle clauses in prenuptial agreements are on the rise

Many people feel that prenuptial agreements are reserved solely for tycoons and celebrities. While that may have been true in the past, today many average couples are seeking to arrange prenuptial agreements as well.

Attorneys who prepare these agreements are seeing another new trend emerge, as well. While the overall number of prenuptial agreements is up, some family law attorneys are seeing more couples ask for lifestyle clauses in their agreements.

Lifestyle clauses are basically a set of specific rules that outline a couple's behavior within the marriage. A relatively new phenomenon, lifestyle clauses can be used to define almost anything: the division of the housework, the time partners can spend watching television or even the maximum number of yearly visits from the in-laws. Some agreements even dictate the diet and body weight that a spouse must maintain.

Proponents say lifestyle clauses allow partners to identify what they want out of their life. Critics say the clauses are unromantic, and in some cases, simply bizarre. One critic pointed out a prenuptial agreement in which each spouse was required to maintain a certain body weight, noting that such clauses are "antithetical to a mutual trusting relationship."

Whether a couple feels a lifestyle clause is right or not, they should be aware that certain clauses may not be enforceable under the law. Some agreements do outline specific fees and penalties for infractions, but many are simply treated as guidelines for behavior. Many judges would likely be reluctant to enforce a lifestyle clause, even if the matter was brought to court.

Of course, most Illinois couples who seek out a prenuptial agreement are not looking to establish lifestyle clauses. Most simply want to protect their assets during marriage and simplify the divorce process if the union should come to an end. Given the high rate of divorce in this country, a prenuptial agreement can be viewed as an insurance policy that defines and simplifies the separation process, allowing both parties to move on more quickly and easily.

Source: silive.com, "Staten Island experts say prenuptial agreements address more than finances," Elise G. McIntosh, Dec. 4, 2012

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