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Prenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements

Michigan Firm Prepares Sound Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements

Experienced Sterling Heights lawyer helps clients to protect their future

Creating a fair, enforceable prenuptial agreement gives prospective husbands and wives the ability to avoid protracted disputes over property rights upon divorce. At my Sterling Heights firm, Dawson Family Law, PLLC, I help clients throughout Michigan in preparing prenups that give each party a sense of security as they enter marriage. For already married couples that want to make similar arrangements, postnuptial agreements can be created as long as the terms are equitable and don’t encourage divorce. Whatever your specific needs and concerns might be, I will use my more than 40 years of family law experience to safeguard your interests with skill and sensitivity.

Determining if a prenuptial agreement is right for you

Prenuptial agreements were once used principally to protect the assets of a wealthier spouse from being squandered by the other spouse or from becoming part of the latter’s inheritance. But societal changes have made prenups advantageous for a much broader segment of the population. People are marrying later in life, usually after both spouses-to-be have started careers and have begun acquiring property and making financial investments. In addition, they may have children from prior marriages or other relationships. Prenups allow spouses with significant assets and/or obligations to existing children to clarify how their property is to be treated, both during the marriage and after it ends.

The classic use of a prenup is to prescribe how much either spouse will receive in spousal maintenance and/or asset division in the event of a divorce. However, an agreement can be beneficial in numerous other situations, such as the following:

  1. A spouse comes into the marriage with assets that, if later commingled with those of the other spouse, would create a right to equitable distribution upon divorce.
  2. A spouse has an ownership stake in a closely held business that might be the subject of dispute over the other spouse’s claimed share in a divorce, which could threaten the business.
  3. One spouse might incur substantial debts during the marriage for which the other spouse could become jointly liable.
  4. Either spouse wishes to ensure that, upon their death, certain assets will go to their children from previous relationships and not be available to their current spouse under inheritance laws.
  5. Either spouse has a retirement account. The other spouse would be entitled to an equitable share, which could lead to asset valuation issues.

The chief benefit of a well-crafted prenup is that it anticipates potential arguments over property and makes provisions to avoid them. Going forward, this helps the spouses make informed decisions about their economic future.

Contesting the validity of a prenuptial agreement

Michigan law sets strict requirements for prenuptial agreements to be enforceable and legally binding. A prenup must be fair and reasonable and must be entered into voluntarily. Each party must fully disclose their financial circumstances and each party must fully understand their rights and any waivers of rights in the agreement.

A contested prenup will not be honored if the court finds that it was based on fraud, mistake, coercion, undue influence or lack of consent due to mental incapacity. In addition, the court has the power to invalidate a prenup or any of its terms if circumstances have changed significantly since the date of signing or if enforcement is unfair for another reason.

The best way to ensure that a prenup is valid and will stand up to a contest is for each of the parties to be represented by a skilled family law attorney who can advise them on how to protect their individual interests.

Benefits of a postnuptial agreement for married couples

A postnuptial agreement is similar to a prenup in that it provides for how a couple’s assets and debts will be treated both during and after the marriage. Spouses who did not enter a prenup — perhaps because they did not have substantial assets before marrying — might consider a postnup after coming into wealth and realizing the advantages of settling property rights in advance of a divorce.

There is one important distinction between prenups and postnups. Michigan public policy disfavors agreements that might encourage divorce. Courts will not enforce postnups that appear to have been made in anticipation of divorce, such as when the agreement would put one spouse in a superior economic standing. To be valid, a postnup must give equitable treatment to the property interests of both spouses.

Contact a Michigan family lawyer for a free consultation on prenuptial and postnuptial agreements

Dawson Family Law, PLLC in Sterling Heights, Michigan has deep experience in drafting, negotiating and revising prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. For a free initial consultation to discuss your options, please call 833-671-4445 or contact me online.

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  • Sterling Heights Office
    43805 Van Dyke Avenue
    Sterling Heights, Michigan 48314
    Phone: 586-731-7400
    Fax: 586-731-6370
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