To most people, prenuptial agreements, or “prenups” as they are commonly called, have a bad connotation. Many believe that such agreements are entered into solely to plan for an inevitable divorce. In reality, there are many reasons why a couple might consider singing a pre-nuptial agreement prior to their wedding day.
Aside from ensuring clarity and finality in the event of divorce, a pre-nuptial agreement protects pre-marital and separate assets. These protections could provide security for a family business, inheritance, and the like. The entire process assists a couple in understanding financial expectations during the marriage and exposes financial information that is not normally shared during the wedding-planning stages. Pre-nuptial agreements can also provide protections for children who are not the product of the marriage.
Importantly, to be enforceable in Michigan, a prenuptial agreement must be:
- Fair, equitable, and reasonable under the circumstances
- Entered into voluntarily, with full disclosure, and all rights and waiver of rights fully understood
- Free from fraud, lack of consent, undue influence, or mental incapacity
- The facts and circumstances cannot have changed to such a significant extent that it would be unfair or unreasonable to enforce the agreement, and
- Both spouses must sign the agreement
Pre-nuptial agreements also help manage the unpredictable. There are a plethora of factors that could severely impact a marriage, such as loss of income, a new child, debt accumulation, bankruptcy, breach of martial vows, domestic violence, infidelity, financial abuse, job changes, and relocation, to name a few. It is important to think about the future and protect yourself and your assets from variables out of your control.
At the end of the day, a prenuptial agreement is intended to preserve and promote a long, healthy marriage while individually protecting each spouse.
John E. Gannon practices in the area of family law at SMITH BOVILL, P.C. These articles are intended to introduce various issues arising within this field of practice and are not intended to replace individual legal advice. If you have questions, please contact John at the firm’s Saginaw office.