Michigan Prenuptial Agreements Checklist

Nearly all of us would like to think that we're marrying our prospective spouses based upon mutual love and respect. However, America's high divorce rates are now motivating even first-time brides and grooms to ask their loved ones to sign prenuptial (or "premarital") agreements. Since these types of agreements have become quite common, it's a good idea for anyone getting married to carefully think about what they might do if presented with a prenuptial agreement.

Of course, the most important thing to keep in mind is that both parties should always have their own private attorneys review any potential prenuptial agreement before it's signed. When it comes to money, far too many people are used to only looking out for "Number One" -- and that person probably isn't you.

Here are some important issues that should normally be covered in any reasonable Michigan prenuptial agreement. Do bear in mind that drawing up this type of paperwork now may actually provide you both with greater peace of mind since life can be incredibly unpredictable.

Key Factors to Address in Your Prenuptial Agreement

•· Separate property owned at the time of your marriage. Nearly everyone wants to be sure they can keep property they already owned in their own name when they married. Of course, it's often considered a loving gesture to add your spouse's name to create a joint bank account or to the home the two of you plan to live in together if you alone owned it prior to your wedding - after thoroughly discussing this idea with your personal attorney;

•· How the two of you wish to address any separate debts you're bringing into the marriage. If these debts aren't large, one party may often pay off the outstanding bills of the other. However, it's often wise to keep clear records of such transactions since one day you may want a divorce -- and you may later try to obtain some type of reimbursement for your early good deeds;

•· How will you handle all gifts and inheritances you both receive during the marriage? Normally, these should remain separate property. However, you and your spouse may want to treat certain gifts differently, depending on your financial situation;

•· How will you both handle your separate earnings and income during the marriage?

It can be very useful to decide which specific sources you will draw from to cover the mortgage, new cars, kids' current and future educational fees, medical expenses, and other basic living expenses;

•· How will you handle any child support payments coming in from prior spouses? While these funds should obviously be spent on the children they are meant to benefit, be sure the two of you don't carelessly start putting too much money into mixed accounts, assuming everything will simply balance out later on. You may want to create a separate account to help you keep track of these special funds - regardless of how many months of the year your children may be living with you and your new spouse;

•· Who will handle the monthly bill payments? There's often a great deal of power shouldered by this individual so be sure you choose wisely. You may even want to alternate the handling of this task every few months;

•· Give serious thought to meeting with a financial planner. Talking with one of these professionals can help an engaged couple make better choices, especially when they're trying to draw up a fair pre-nuptial agreement. Always try to choose someone neither of you currently employs so you'll know the person is being fully objective;

•· Be sure to discuss your combined and future financial goals. Just because you're drafting a prenuptial agreement doesn't mean that you'll one day get divorced. A tightly drawn-up prenuptial agreement may help you both start setting realistic financial goals at an early age;

•· If only one of you will be working outside the home, how will this be addressed? No one wants to be treated like a child. Try to set up some type of account that both of you can regularly draw from for basic necessities - within reasonable limits;

•· Make sure you factor in any special health problems of either party. It's important to be realistic so that a disabled spouse won't have to live with undue worry about how he or she may be treated in the future, especially in light of his or her health;

•· How much spousal support would be fair? Try to be both reasonable and generous when discussing this pivotal part of all prenuptial agreements. This will also help prevent a future court from overturning your prenuptial agreement due to any perceived fraud or coercion;

•· Will someone receive a lump sum payment at the time of a divorce? Ask yourselves if you really believe you should designate how much the less wealthy spouse (at the time you marry) should be given if your marriage doesn't last more than a certain amount of time;

•· Should you provide an expiration date for your prenuptial agreement? This can be a very loving provision for the two of you to discuss. It can also reaffirm your mutual reasons for even getting married in the first place.

Remember, always hire your own Michigan family law attorney to look over any prenuptial agreement you may want to sign. Also, be sure to ask about other topics not already set forth above. Each couple often has special circumstances that need to be weighed and considered.