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Can courts invalidate prenuptial agreements?

On Behalf of | Mar 23, 2020 | Divorce

While many Michigan couples enter marriage with the belief that a prenuptial agreement will simplify proceedings if the marriage breaks up, sometimes prenuptial agreements complicate matters. Under certain conditions, courts may invalidate these agreements. 

You may believe that prenuptial agreements are only for the wealthy. However, several other circumstances may make them a worthwhile agreement before marriage. For example, an older couple with adult children from previous relationships may use a prenuptial agreement to clarify how to distribute property to children and each other after death. Some couples use prenuptial agreements as protection from a future spouse’s debts in the event of a divorce. 

Enforceable prenuptial agreements 

Courts uphold prenuptial agreements that are fair. When both parties agree to a prenuptial agreement voluntarily and in good faith, courts are reluctant to overturn them. But what do courts consider “fair?” 

Fair agreements and disclosure of information 

A fair agreement is one where both parties fully disclose critical information like income, debts, assets and other property. But even when that is the case, courts may elect not to enforce prenuptial agreements when conditions have changed enough that the original agreement is no longer reasonable. 

Prenuptial agreements as financial planning instruments 

Most couples who sign prenuptial agreements consider the documents to be sound financial planning instruments. In many cases, they may simplify what would otherwise be a messy and complex divorce. But courts are not obligated to uphold every prenuptial agreement. It is in everyone’s best interests for both future spouses to understand the purposes and limits to these agreements as well as the limited circumstances in which courts may invalidate them.