Welcome back. We’ve been talking about prenuptial agreements in Michigan, and what soon-to-be-married couples should and shouldn’t include in their prenups. It can seem a little strange to someone who’s never written one before, but believe it or not, crafting a strong prenup that’s likely to stand the test of time and hold up in court is something of an art form. And many people (including some lawyers) get it wrong. They miss out on the opportunity to address very important things, or include things that could never be enforced, and instead focus on all sorts of nonsense that would never be enforced in a Michigan court. Not sure which is which? Stick around and we’ll break it down for you.
Take care of your assets from before you got married!
This is a big one. If you had a lump sum you inherited from a relative before you were married, or a trust fund your parents set up for you when you were a kid, then those things need to be protected. Anything that was exclusively yours before you tied the knot can be specified in your prenup as something only you get to keep if the marriage fails (unless you want your future spouse to get half of those assets). That could include anything from a house you purchased before tying the knot, to a old boat you bought and fixed up years ago.
There’s no such thing as a bulletproof prenup!
If you owned something of value, then we recommend you consider what you want done with it if your marriage doesn’t work out. However, keep in mind that no prenuptial agreement is bullet proof. Circumstances change, judges change and the law changes. So it’s important for lawyers to draft the very best agreement they can draft, with full knowledge that sometimes these agreements are set aside despite their best efforts. The process of drafting a prenuptial agreement should begin 3 – 6 months before the marriage and both parties should have their own attorneys.
Kids from a previous relationship can also be provided for.
If you or your spouse-to-be have children from a previous relationship, you can make sure they’re provided for when it comes to inheriting assets from a parent. For example, if you happen to own a home and some mutual funds when you get married, you can include in your prenup that you want your kids to inherit your assets. That way, if you pass away, you can push so that your children from a previous marriage aren’t cut out by a current spouse. This also allows you to safeguard that certain valuable or sentimental items stay in the family (your daughter is to inherit Aunt Heather’s jewelry, or your son is supposed to get the hunting cabin up north.) Again, nothing is guaranteed but drafting the best agreement is a great start.
However, you can’t address custody issues in a prenuptial agreement!
While a prenup lets you protect an inheritance you want your children from former relationships to receive when you die, your prenup can’t be used to plan ahead for custody of the children you haven’t had yet. You can’t specify in your prenup that if you have children, your spouse has to agree to give up custody to you. And you can’t spell out visitation requirements, or forbid your spouse to have contact with the kids. Visitation orders and custody agreements will be agreed on by the Oakland County Family Court at the time of your divorce (assuming it ever comes to that) and not before! It is solely in the discretion of the court to determine what is in the children’s best interest.
Get a good lawyer, so you can get a good prenup.
Prenuptial agreements are something of a science. They need to handled with finesse and a deep knowledge of Michigan family law. So if you’re planning to get married, and you want to create a lasting prenup that’ll have the best chance to stand the test of time and hold up in court we can help you with that. The experienced family law attorneys at The Kronzek Firm have the utmost respect for your pending marriage, and can help you to plan for possibilies or eventualities (even the ones you don’t think will ever happen, because you never know!). You can reach us 24/7 at (248) 479-6200. We’re here to help.