In Michigan, for a marriage to be considered legitimate in the eyes of the law the marriage must be solemnized and the couple must obtain a marriage license. For a person to have a legal prenuptial agreement, a marriage must have occurred according to Michigan law. However, some religious marriages have both parties sign a religious marriage agreement that outlines what would happen in the event of divorce. Some have argued that this religious marriage contract should be recognized as a prenuptial agreement in a court of law.
How to Legalize Your Religious Marriage
For a prenuptial agreement to hold firm, a marriage according to Michigan law must have been solemnized and a license must exist. There are numerous ways under the law for a couple to have their marriage solemnized. Some people that are able to solemnize a marriage include:
● A probate judge, district court judge or a district court magistrate anywhere in the state;
● A federal court judge;
● A city mayor anywhere in the county where the city was located;
● A county clerk in the county where you live; or
● A minister, cleric or religious practitioner who is ordained or allowed to solemnize marriages according to the person’s religion.
Although a religious practitioner is able to solemnize a marriage, the marriage license must be obtained through the married couple’s county clerk. The couple will present the license to the religious leader conducting the religious marriage. Otherwise a religious marriage will not be seen as legitimate and shared rights will not exist between the parties. However, when a person is married according to Michigan law, a person may be able to use their religious marriage agreement as a prenuptial agreement in the case of divorce.
Religious Marriage Agreements and Prenuptial Agreements
Some have suggested that the courts should allow religious marriage agreements to potentially be considered as a prenuptial agreement. If a couple was married in the eyes of the law and has a religious marriage agreement, the couple should be able to use their agreement in the event of a divorce. When this happens you should consult with an attorney and determine whether the document can be used or if the couple should prepare a prenuptial agreement.
Are You in the Midst of Wedding Planning?
If you are in the process of planning a wedding, you should consider contacting an attorney to discuss whether a prenuptial agreement may be right for you and whether your religious marriage agreement can and/or should also act as a prenuptial agreement. Michael A. Robbins is a Michigan attorney who advocates that couples include prenuptial agreements in their wedding planning discussions. He is available to speak with you regarding a prenuptial agreement that would fit your needs or about whether your religious marriage agreement would hold up in a court of law. You can contact him by calling 248-646-7980.