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.
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:
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.
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.
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.
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.