Many people who are planning to get married enter into prenuptial agreements with their soon-to-be spouse. A prenuptial agreement, also known as an antenuptial or premarital agreement, is defined under Michigan law (MCL 557.28) as “a contract relating to property made between persons in contemplation of marriage [that will] remain in full force after marriage takes place.” Unlike other states, the Michigan statute does not expressly provide information about when prenuptial agreements are unenforceable. However, prenuptial agreements are contracts, and as such, they are governed by Michigan law concerning contracts and their enforcement (MCL 566.132). Case law like Rinvelt v. Rinvelt (1991) also governs prenuptial agreements in the state.
Anyone who enters into a prenuptial agreement typically does so with the assumption or understanding that all of its terms will be upheld in the event of a divorce. However, there are some situations in which prenuptial agreements may not be enforced, or may not be enforced entirely. We will say more about how an existing prenuptial agreement may affect your Michigan divorce case and the division of marital property.
Prenuptial Agreements are Generally Enforceable Unless Fraudulent or Unconscionable
Most prenuptial agreements contain terms about property and finances. For example, many prenups contain information about how specific marital assets will be distributed in the event of a divorce, or whether one spouse will be able to retain certain assets that otherwise would be classified as marital property. For instance, the spouses might agree that Spouse A will retain any income from a particular source and that the income will not be classified as marital property or subject to division in the event of a divorce. If you entered into a prenuptial agreement and that agreement includes details about how and whether certain marital property will be distributed, there is a good chance that the agreement will be enforced. In other words, the court will typically uphold the agreement unless one of the following is true:
- Fraud, duress, or misrepresentation occurred in creating the agreement;
- Agreement was unconscionable at the time it was executed; or
- Circumstances have changed so significantly since the agreement was made that it is now unconscionable.
The terms of your agreement are likely to be upheld in your divorce unless one of the above is true.
What Will Happen if Your Prenuptial Agreement is Deemed Unenforceable?
If a Michigan court ultimately determines that your prenuptial agreement is unenforceable, it can decide not to enforce a particular term or it can decide that the entire agreement is unenforceable.
In such a situation, Michigan law concerning the division of marital property in a divorce would apply as in any case without an existing prenuptial agreement. To be clear, your property would be classified as marital or separate property, and then all marital property would be distributed according to the theory of equitable distribution.
Contact a Michigan Divorce Lawyer
If you are wondering how a Michigan court is likely to view your prenuptial agreement or you have concerns about the enforceability of your prenuptial agreement, an experienced Michigan divorce lawyer can help. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Robbins today for more information.