Considering the fact that a prenuptial agreement can save you and your partner a lot of drama in the event of a divorce, it is something you should consider at length prior to your marriage. These agreements aren’t a one-size-fits-all type of arrangement but rather they should be drafted to address your specific circumstances.
At the same time, you cannot put in just any clause you want in prenuptial agreement. In fact, there are things that a prenuptial agreement can accomplish and things that it can never do. We’ll look at both of these angles below, as well as what steps you can take to ensure your prenuptial agreement is enforceable in Michigan.
What Can Go In a Michigan Prenuptial Agreement?
The purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to help a couple determine how the marital estate will be divided in the event that they get divorced. Some people think getting a prenuptial agreement means that you don’t believe in the relationship but there are plenty of happily married couples who started their lives together by first getting a prenup.
A prenuptial agreement is insurance against a possibility, not a prediction that that possibility will occur. As such, they also include agreements that are useful for the couple even if they should never get divorced; clauses such as what happens when one spouse passes away are useful to include.
Issues that a prenuptial agreement can cover here in Michigan include:
- The division of property, financial accounts, and business interests
- Identifying and awarding each party his or her pre-marital or inherited assets
- Identifying and making each party responsible for his or her pre-marital debts
- What happens if one spouse passes away during the marriage
- Whether or not either or both spouses must have a will
- How life insurance proceeds are to be divide
- What control one spouse has over the other’s assets
- Whether alimony will be paid, as well as the amount or duration of said payments
There can be a number of other elements covered in a prenup, but they generally fall along with one of the lines of reasoning discussed above. Because there is no cut-and-paste way of making a prenuptial agreement, since it requires a consideration of your specific circumstances, it is always in your best interest to work with an attorney to ensure everything is covered and that it can all be enforced in Michigan.
What Can’t a Prenuptial Agreement Cover?
There are some decisions which cannot be decided in a prenuptial agreement. Granted, you could write them into your agreement but they wouldn’t be legally enforceable and so your prenup would give you an illusion of control or security that didn’t actually exist.
Things that can’t be covered by a prenuptial agreement include:
- Anything Illegal: Pretty straight-forward.
- Child Support or Custody Decisions: It is up to the court to calculate and have the final say in child support payments based on what is in the best interest of the child. The same goes for custody rights. There are too many factors at play in determining what is best for the child to be covered by a prenuptial agreement, which often predate the birth of the child in question anyway.
- Provisions Encouraging Divorce: The purpose of a prenuptial agreement is to help the couple to better live together first and foremost, while the way it helps smooth things over in the event of a divorce is secondary. If a prenuptial agreement looks like it is written to encourage financial incentives gained through a divorce then it is likely to be a pretty big problem.
- Personal Matters: Things like who does the chores and other personal matters cannot be covered in a prenuptial agreement, since they are focused on financial aspects of the marriage. Many prenuptial agreements written by the couple themselves will include matters like this but those provisions are struck down or unenforceable.
There are a number of elements that cannot be used in a prenuptial agreement but they can be broken down into the categories above. If you are ever in doubt about whether or not a particular provision can be included in your prenuptial agreement then keep in mind that working with an attorney is the only way to get to a legal and enforceable agreement.
How Can I Ensure That My Prenuptial Agreement is Enforceable in Michigan?
Many states, Michigan included, align their thinking on prenuptial agreements in tune with The Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act. That means that in order to ensure that your prenuptial agreement is enforceable that it:
- Is fair and reasonable
- Is entered into voluntarily, with everything being disclosed and understood by both parties
- Is free from fraud and consent has not been gained through trickery
- Is as accurate to the current circumstances of the couple as it was when it was written, so it remains fair and has not become unreasonable since
- Is signed by both spouses
While these details are necessary to ensure that it is enforceable, there are some other elements that can help your cause. For example, if both spouses have fully disclosed their financial circumstances with each other before signing then a court is more likely to enforce the prenup.
If a prenup is found to be built on deceit or fraud then it will be invalidated by the courts. A prenup can be challenged by a spouse if they believe that the circumstances around it were unjust.
Should I Seek Legal Help With My Prenuptial Agreement?
Yes. There are a lot of small details that can’t make it into a simple blog post like this. The unique circumstances of your situation could be vastly more complicated than the average person’s and so it is always a good idea to work with an experienced attorney that understands the field.
If you need help with anything surrounding prenuptial agreements or any big developments and changes you’re facing with your estate or divorce, then reach out to The American Divorce Association for Men to see how our esteemed legal professionals can help you today.