What is a Postnuptial Agreement?

Many people are familiar with prenuptial agreements (also known as prenups or premarital agreements). These are also sometimes called antenuptial agreements, which really only belongs in a JEOPARDY! question. With a prenup, two soon-to-be-married spouses can agree to terms for their marriage in the event that the marital union ends in a divorce. Prenups can establish legally binding language related to the division of assets, estate planning, business ownership, debts, spousal support (also known as alimony or spousal maintenance), and more.

But what is a postnuptial agreement?

Whereas a prenuptial agreement is established before a couple ever says, “I do,” a postnuptial agreement is established sometime after the beginning of the marriage. Postnuptial agreements work very similarly to prenuptial agreements, except for when they were originally drafted and signed. Neither a prenuptial nor postnuptial agreement is necessarily an easy topic to broach with your partner, as it requires that you both consider the full ramifications of a divorce. Still, it would be wise to do so.

Those who may benefit from postnuptial agreements include the following:

  • One or both spouses have incurred a large amount of debt since the beginning of the marriage.
  • There are regrets about not signing prenuptial agreements.
  • There has been a new business formation since the start of the marriage.
  • You and your spouse have frequent arguments about how to handle marital finances.
  • You have obtained a large asset since the start of the marital union.

In order to ensure that your postnuptial agreement is legally enforceable in Michigan courts, it is highly recommended that you draft your agreement with the help of experienced family law attorneys. We would be proud to lend legal assistance.

What is Required for a Postnuptial Agreement to Be Enforceable in Michigan?

Postnuptial agreements are essentially legally binding contracts between two spouses. They must satisfy contract laws as well as Michigan family law in order to be considered enforceable in a courtroom setting.

The following legal requirements must be met:

  • A postnuptial agreement must be signed and agreed to by both parties with a full understanding of the facts.
  • Both spouses must be given adequate time to thoroughly review the terms of the postnup agreement with the help of legal advice from a family law lawyer.
  • Postnuptial agreements will not be considered valid under Michigan law if they are deemed unconscionable. There must be an overall fairness to the agreement. An unreasonably unfair postnuptial agreement violates public policy in Michigan.
  • There can be no instances of fraud, errors, or coercion. If the postnup was agreed to under coercion, fraudulent means, or a misrepresentation of the facts, it will likely be considered invalid and void.
  • There must be a full disclosure of all separate and shared assets and debts. Both spouses must be fully informed of the other spouse’s asset liabilities.
  • There needs to be a pending divorce case that is going to be dismissed in exchange for signing of the postnuptial agreement, or some other extreme type of situation where there is consideration, or a bargained for exchange.

Can Postnuptial Agreements Be Modified in Michigan?

Postnuptial and prenuptial agreements can be amended and edited after they are created. Situations change, and existing documents must change to reflect these shifting circumstances.

No two postnup agreements are exactly alike. Each postnup is tailored to the unique needs of the spouses and their marriage. Just as they were initially written and reviewed to meet those unique needs, they can be uniquely modified in the same way. It is highly recommended that you retain professional legal counsel when looking to make a modification to your postnuptial or prenuptial agreements.

To make any amendment to your postnuptial agreement, both parties must agree on the changes to be made. It is advisable that both spouses retain independent legal representation to review any proposed changes to a postnuptial agreement. Postnuptial agreements are legally binding, and the paperwork and language must be carefully reviewed and documented to ensure that everything is in order and enforceable and that the changes are as they were agreed to.

Is it Possible to Revoke or Cancel a Postnup Agreement?

If both spouses determine that they no longer want the post-nuptial agreement to be in effect, they have the legal option to revoke or cancel it.

The legal revocation of a postnuptial agreement typically requires that both spouses write an agreement that explicitly states their shared intent to revoke the postnuptial agreement and all its legally binding terms. This new written agreement should be signed by both parties and witnessed by their independent family law attorneys.

For more information on revoking postnuptial agreements and whether it is the right decision for you and your spouse, please contact our law firm for a free initial consultation.

What Life Events May Make it Necessary to Make Postnuptial Agreement Modifications?

Certain life events may make it necessary or, at the very least, highly recommended for spouses to update the terms of their existing postnuptial agreements. After all, no marital agreement can anticipate everything that may happen over the course of a marriage, and certain language may be outdated as the years go on.

Life events that may lead to spouses amending or revoking their postnuptial agreements include the following:

  • A new business is formed.
  • Having new children together. Also, adopting children from a previous marriage.
  • One spouse incurs a large amount of debt.
  • Purchasing new real estate properties such as a family home.
  • Receiving a large inheritance or gift.

Your modifications could reflect the division of property, business ownership, division of retirement and investment accounts, division of life insurance, and more.

There are some limitations about when a postnuptial agreement may be modified or revoked. For example, if the two spouses are currently separated or going through divorce proceedings, then it is too late to modify or cancel a postnuptial agreement.

Can Someone Contest a Postnuptial Agreement?

It is possible for someone to contest the terms of a postnuptial agreement. The challenging party must prove in Michigan courts that the post-nuptial agreement as written is invalid.

Grounds for contesting postnuptial agreements in Michigan may include:

  • Coercion.
  • Fraud.
  • Lack of independent legal counsel.
  • Misrepresentation.
  • The agreement was signed under duress.
  • Unconscionability or unfairness.
  • Lack of consideration or other proof of a bargained for exchange

Contact Us for a Free Consultation Today

If you have previously signed a postnuptial agreement but have a new reason to want to see it modified or terminated, it is highly recommended that you speak with an experienced family law attorney. Our law firm has years of experience representing fathers in complex family law legal matters, including the complexities of postnuptial agreements and their modifications. We would be proud to lend legal assistance to you as you seek to modify your postnuptial agreement.

To learn more about our legal services, contact us for a free phone consultation today. (248) 290-6675.