When Can a Prenuptial Agreement be Invalidated?
If you are thinking about filing for divorce in Michigan and wondering whether a premarital agreement will be enforceable, or if you are considering marriage and the benefits of prenuptial agreements, it is important to understand the circumstances in which these agreements can be invalidated. A premarital agreement, also known as a prenuptial agreement or a “prenup” in Michigan, is a contract that can stipulate the parties’ positions on various financial matters, as well as outline what property will not be subject to division in the event of a divorce.
While it might seem like a simple matter to put together an agreement about both parties’ finances before getting married in order to protect the parties in the event of divorce, there are a variety of ways in which prenups can be invalidated. The following is information about circumstances that could invalidate a premarital agreement.
Prenuptial Agreement is Not Written Down or Signed
Unlike most other states, Michigan has not enacted a version of the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA), but this does not mean that there are not requirements for prenuptial agreements in the state. First and most importantly, prenuptial agreements must be written down in order for them to be valid. For example, if a couple planning to get married came to an agreement about how property would be divided in the event of a divorce but did not write it down, then the agreement likely is not valid in court. In addition, the prenuptial agreement must be signed by both parties in order to be valid.
Issues of Consent or Undue Influence
In order for a prenup to be valid, both parties need to enter into the agreement of their own free will. This means that neither party can be forced into signing the agreement against his or her will or coerced to sign the agreement through undue influence. In cases where evidence of such influence exists, the court may decide to invalidate the premarital agreement.
One of the Parties Did Not Have the Capacity to Enter Into the Agreement
As mentioned, a prenuptial agreement needs to be entered into freely by both parties, and each of those parties must have the mental capacity to understand and agree to the terms at the time of signing. If one of the parties does not have the necessary capacity to enter into the agreement, the prenup may be invalidated.
Circumstances Have Changed and Prenuptial Agreement Would Not be Fair or Equitable
In order to be enforceable, a prenuptial agreement needs to be fair and equitable given the parties’ circumstances. If a court looks at the terms of the prenuptial agreement and determines that it is not fair or equitable under the circumstances of the particular case, then it can invalidate the agreement. For example, a couple might agree that there will be no spousal support regardless of economic circumstances, but the couple could remain married for decades with one of the spouses working and the other staying at home to raise children. When they decide to divorce, the spouse who remained at home to raise the children might need spousal support in order to get properly settled after the divorce, and the court might decide that it is not fair to prohibit spousal maintenance in this case.
If one of the parties lied about his or her assets or failed to disclose pertinent information, the court can determine that there was fraud and can invalidate the document.
Learn More from a Grand Rapids Prenuptial Agreement Attorney
If you have questions about premarital agreements, a family law attorney in Grand Rapids is available to review your situation and offer guidance. Contact the Van Den Heuvel Law Office to learn more.