The Importance of Pre-Nuptial Agreements in Michigan Family Law

Over the past several years Pre-nuptial Agreements have become increasingly common. They are most often used when there are significant pre-marital assets. In order to ensure that a Pre-nuptial Agreement is properly executed and meets all requirements so that it may be enforceable if challenged, it is important that each party consult with a Michigan family law attorney, especially as each Agreement and enforcement thereof is fact sensitive and determined on a case by case basis. Pre-nuptial Agreements are contracts and generally binding on both parties. There are three main requirements for such Agreements in order to be valid and therefore enforceable.

First, it is important that neither party be coerced or under duress when entering such an agreement. Second, there must be an adequate level of financial disclosure of all assets and debts, so that the agreement is reasonably “fair.” Finally, it is important that both parties receive independent representation by lawyers.

Why get a Pre-nuptial Agreement:
A Pre-nuptial Agreement is invaluable if you need to use it. It should be looked at not as a precursor to a divorce, but as loving each other so much and so dearly that you are willing to care for their future. You are planning out of love instead of fighting out of hate if you are to divorce.

A Pre-nuptial Agreement isn’t only for individuals or couples with a lot of money being brought into the marriage. It is a versatile document that not only outlines how pre-marital assets are to be treated, but also debts, marital obligations, future division of property, alimony, etc. There is almost no limit to what can be written into a properly drafted Pre-nuptial Agreement.

Prenuptial agreements are most often used for the following purposes:

1. Provide for children from prior marriages: A Pre-nuptial Agreement is helpful (perhaps essential) if either of you has children from a previous relationship and you want to make sure that your children inherit their share of your property. In a Pre-nuptial Agreement, one or both spouses can give up the right to claim a share of the other’s property at death, perhaps in exchange for an agreed upon amount of property.

2. Keep property in the family: If your property includes something you want to keep in your birth family, whether it be an heirloom or a share in a family business, you and your spouse can agree that it will remain in your family, and you can specify that item in your Pre-nuptial Agreement. This can even include property that you expect to receive in a future inheritance.

3. Keep finances separate: Every state has laws designating certain kinds of assets accumulated during marriage as marital property or community property, even if these assets are held in the name of just one spouse. If a couple divorces, or when one spouse dies, the marital or community property will be divided between them, either by agreement or by a court. If you want to avoid having some or all of your individual accumulations during marriage divided up by a court, you can do so with a Pre-nuptial Agreement.

4. Protect each other from debts: Some of us bring debts, as well as assets, to a marriage. If there’s no Pre-nuptial Agreement, creditors can sometimes turn to marital or community property to satisfy the debts of just one spouse. But if you want to make sure that saying “I do” does not mean saying “I owe,” you can use a Pre-nuptial Agreement to limit your liability for each other’s debts.

5. Define who gets what if you divorce: Without a Pre-nuptial Agreement, state law will specify how your property will be divided if you ever divorce. These laws may dictate a result that neither of you wants. You can use a Pre-nuptial Agreement to establish your own rules for property division and avoid potential disagreements in the event of a divorce

When should I sign a Pre-nuptial Agreement?

Ideally, you should have a Pre-nuptial Agreement drawn up and signed at least 6 months before your wedding date. This gives the Michigan family law attorneys time to properly negotiate the terms and the parties to work out any issues. It also gives the Pre-nuptial Agreement more validity since at a later time, neither party can claim that they were forced to sign the Pre-nuptial Agreement under duress.

Do I need an attorney to draft a Pre-nuptial Agreement?

You not only need an attorney, but your fiancé should retain a separate attorney. The language of a Pre-nuptial Agreement needs to be very specific and all legal formalities need to be followed. By both parties getting different attorneys it makes the Pre-nuptial Agreement more valid if either party decides to contest the agreement.

Information on Pre-Nupital Agreements in Michigan provided by the Metro Detroit Family Law attorneys at Allan W. Ben, PC. For a free consultation, call our office today.