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Looking at the basic requirements of prenuptial, postnuptial agreements in MI

In our previous post, we looked at the potential benefits of prenuptial agreements, even for couples who do not have a lot of wealth prior to marriage. As we noted, there are a number of issues prenuptial agreements can address, but a prenuptial agreement is only effective if it meets certain legal requirements.

For one thing, prenuptial agreements must be made in writing, which makes oral prenuptial agreements ineffectual. Prenuptial agreements must also be entered into voluntarily by both parties after they have received full disclosure of the other party’s assets. Coercion or duress, as well as fraudulent hiding of assets, are issues to watch out for in negotiating prenuptial agreements. 

In Michigan, prenuptial agreements must also be fair at the time of execution, or they may be declared unconscionable. One-sided agreements raise questions about whether the disadvantaged party voluntarily entered into the agreement. In addition to fairness at the time of execution, it is also worth mentioning that fairness at the time of divorce can also be a consideration.

If there is a legitimate change of circumstances resulting in an unfair arrangement at the time of divorce, this can sometimes serve as a basis for voiding a prenuptial agreement, though there are certain limitations. For example, the length of the marriage cannot serve as a change in circumstances justifying the setting aside of a prenuptial agreement. Nor can one party’s acquisition of significant separate assets after marriage serve as a basis for setting aside a prenuptial agreement when acquisition of separate assets was agreed to in advance.

With postnuptial agreements, many of the same requirements also apply, but there is also the requirement of adequate consideration. Consideration is a requirement of any valid contract, but it works a little differently in postnuptial agreements than it does in prenuptial agreements.  We’ll say more about this in our next post, and how an experienced attorney can help negotiate and execute an effective agreement. 

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Looking at the basic requirements of prenuptial, postnuptial agreements in MI | Peter A D'Angelo, Attorney at Law, PLC