Prenuptial agreements, also known as premarital agreements, have gained increasing popularity in recent years as more couples enter marriages with their own financial interests and assets. Prenups allow individuals to outline the terms of property division, spousal support, debt management and other issues, thereby avoiding disputes and uncertainties should the marriage end. However, it’s important to be aware of what can and cannot be covered by a prenuptial agreement in Michigan, since this can affect its enforceability.
What can be covered by a prenup?
- Property and asset division — Prenuptial agreements in Michigan can specify how property will be divided in the event of a divorce. This includes personal property, real estate, bank accounts, investments and other assets.
- Spousal support (alimony) — Spouses can agree on whether or not either party will be entitled to spousal support or alimony in the event of divorce. Prenups can lay out the terms and conditions of support.
- Debts — Prenuptial agreements can address how marital debts will be divided or managed during divorce. This provision can ensure that one party is not unfairly burdened with the other’s debts.
- Inheritance rights — Although each spouse is generally entitled to property inherited during a marriage, it may lose this protection if it is commingled or used for common marital purposes. A prenup can spell out that such property will remain separate no matter the circumstances.
- Business interests — If one or both spouses owns a business or a share in a business, a prenuptial agreement can address how that interest will be treated in the event of divorce. This may cover issues related to ownership, valuation and the potential impact of divorce on the business’s operations.
What cannot be covered by a prenup
- Child custody and child support — Prenuptial agreements cannot determine or modify child custody or child support arrangements. These matters are decided by the court according to the best interests of the children.
- Personal behavior — Prenup provisions that dictate personal behavior during the marriage, such as how often a spouse should clean the house or other non-financial matters, are generally unenforceable.
- Unfair provisions — Prenups cannot include provisions that are illegal or unconscionable, the latter of which means they are extremely unfair or one-sided. For example, if a prenup would leave one spouse destitute in the event of divorce, it may not be enforced.
In addition, full financial disclosure by both parties is required and the agreement must be executed voluntarily, without coercion or duress. Consulting with a knowledgeable Michigan family law attorney about can help you ensure that your prenuptial agreement is valid and enforceable. Both parties should have independent legal counsel, since one attorney cannot represent both parties’ interests.
Dawson Family Law, PLLC in Sterling Heights negotiates, drafts and revises prenuptial and postnuptial agreements for clients throughout Michigan. Please call 833-671-4445 or contact me online for a free initial consultation.