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Will Your Prenuptial Agreement Stand Up in a Michigan Court?

According to the American Psychological Association, roughly 40-50% of all marriages in the U.S. now end in divorce. This is a disheartening statistic, especially when you realize that divorce rates are even higher for subsequent marriages.

This is perhaps why prenuptial agreements have become so common. Once the province of wealthy families seeking to dissuade gold-diggers from horning in on the family fortune, prenups have become a way for practically-minded couples to ensure that their interests are protected in the event of a divorce.

The problem is that prenuptial agreements are a complex undertaking, and in order to be enforceable, they must meet certain standards. If a court determining the validity of a prenuptial agreement in the event of divorce determines that it does not meet criteria, you could lose out on any benefits you were counting on.

How can you make a prenuptial agreement that will remain enforceable? How can you be sure your agreement will hold up in a Michigan court? Here’s are a few questions you should ask going in.

Is it Fraudulent?
A prenuptial agreement that is obtained by fraudulent means definitely won’t stand up in court. What does this mean? Fraud could include instances of duress, mistake, misrepresentation, or nondisclosure of material facts.

If, for example, you used coercion or threats to intimidate your spouse into signing a prenuptial agreement, the court will not look kindly on your actions. If you misrepresented the contents of the agreement or simply failed to disclose factors that would cause your spouse not to sign, again you’re probably out of luck. And if you tricked your spouse into mistakenly signing the document, well, you know the drill.

Is it Unconscionable?
Fairness is a factor when it comes to prenuptial agreements, mainly because a spouse is already legally entitled to half of marital assets without one, simply by virtue of the marriage contract. If you create a prenup with terms that are deemed grossly unfair, or unconscionable, it may not hold up in court, even if the other person agreed and signed it.

What is considered unconscionable? Something that is so unfair that it would shock the conscience of anyone with common sense. This is still a bit vague, so let’s just say a massive imbalance that favors one party should probably be avoided. If benefits aren’t proportional, there are restrictions on the creation of community property, or there are limits on property dissolution after separation or divorce, just for example, there’s a chance the terms could be deemed unconscionable.

Have Your Circumstances Changed?
If you enter into a prenuptial agreement and your circumstances change dramatically during the course of your marriage, it may not be upheld as valid, fair, and enforceable when you decide to separate or divorce. This is a hard one to wrap your head around, because it’s so open to interpretation and the judgment of the court. However, if the change in circumstances wasn’t reasonably foreseeable, as with a rags-to-riches scenario, there’s a chance your prenup is not enforceable under this criterion.

Determining whether a prenuptial agreement is enforceable can lead to complex legal proceedings that are best handled by a qualified lawyer. If you need help, don’t hesitate to contact the experts at The Gucciardo Law Firm at 248-723-5190 today.

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We focus exclusively on family law matters so we are always available to answer your questions and help.

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