During one of the happiest moments of your life, couples seldom want to consider the complications of ending their marriage before it ever gets off the ground. Sometimes, couples wait to contemplate their future and the protection of their assets until after marriage. Instead of a prenuptial agreement, they may opt for a postnuptial agreement instead.
A postnuptial agreement is a legally binding contract between spouses that outlines the ownership of financial assets and the division of those assets in the event of divorce. However, unlike a prenuptial agreement, a postnuptial agreement happens after the wedding, sometimes even years later.
Postnuptial agreements are less commonly discussed than prenuptial agreements. As such, you may have questions about whether a postnuptial agreement is valid in Michigan. At Mihelich & Kavanaugh, PLC, we want to help you understand the specifics of these agreements and whether they are enforceable in Michigan.
Does Michigan Recognize Postnuptial Agreements?
The short answer is yes. Michigan does recognize the legality of postnuptial contracts between married spouses. However, postnuptial agreements are scrutinized much more closely than prenuptial agreements. It may be because courts are invested in Michigan’s public policy against encouraging separation or divorce, and if they’re improperly drafted, postnuptial agreements could encourage divorce. Ideally, postnuptial agreements help couples stay together by freeing them from worry about any potential financial issues so that they can focus on their relationship.
What Makes a Postnuptial Agreement Enforceable in Michigan?
Since postnuptial agreements may face stricter scrutiny in court, you and your attorney must draft a document that meets all pertinent legal criteria. An enforceable postnuptial contract between spouses must:
- Contain full disclosure between partners– A postnuptial agreement must fully disclose both partners’ assets and debts. You cannot enter into a legally binding agreement with your spouse post-marriage unless you are both fully informed about the assets and liabilities of the other.
- Be based on overall fairness – A postnuptial agreement protects your assets. It cannot include provisions that are unreasonably unfair to the other party. Postnuptial agreements are typically invalid if they are considered “unconscionable,” are obviously unfair to the other spouse, or violate public policy.
- Be absent of fraud, mistake, or coercion –Courts do not generally uphold postnuptial agreements obtained through fraudulent means or contracts made under the pretense of misrepresented facts or information. Agreements may also be unenforceable if a spouse is threatened or coerced into signing the document.
Additionally, you must give your spouse adequate time to review the document and potentially consult with their attorney for assistance. Your spouse must also comprehend the implications of signing the document.
What Can You Include in a Postnuptial Agreement?
Postnuptial agreements most commonly outline the division of assets in the event of divorce. These legal documents may protect business and personal assets and detail spousal support payments. Issues of child support, visitation, and child custody remain under a judge’s discretion. Including these elements in a postnuptial agreement does not mean those provisions bind a judge. Ultimately, Michigan courts decide what is in a child’s best interest regardless of the contents of a postnuptial contract.
Do You Have Questions About Postnuptial Agreements? Contact an Experienced Family Law Attorney Today
Postnuptial contracts can be a crucial tool to protect yourself, your family, and your business. However, these agreements must meet strict Michigan guidelines to be enforceable if you and your partner divorce. Do not go the do-it-yourself route. For help navigating Michigan’s legal system and drafting a solid postnuptial agreement that will withstand judicial scrutiny, discuss your situation with an attorney from Mihelich & Kavanaugh, PLC.
Contact our office today at (586) 776-1700 to arrange your confidential legal consultation.