A prenuptial agreement protects assets in the event of a divorce. Couples that use this legal document trust the paperwork will serve its purpose. But do they always work? As recently discovered by one couple, there are situations when an individual can successfully challenge a prenuptial agreement.
Court case provides an example: Allard v. Allard and prenups in Michigan
In Allard v. Allard, the Michigan Court of Appeals essentially dissected a prenuptial agreement. One party presented the prenuptial agreement, also known as an antenuptial, to the signing party ten days prior to the marriage. He stated he would call the wedding off unless she signed the agreement. The party presented with the document signed the agreement two days before the wedding. Some additional facts of consequence include the party to sign the agreement did not have independent legal counsel review the agreement on her behalf and there was a stark financial difference between the two parties.
Sixteen years after the wedding, the couple divorced. One party presents the prenuptial agreement to the court. The parties argue about the validity of the document. Was there coercion? Undue influence? Litigation eventually heads to the Michigan Court of Appeals where the court states the agreement is valid.
The case does not end there. The agreement is valid, but the court begins dissecting the provisions. Ultimately, the court removes a provision that made it impossible to seek ownership of separate property assets in the event of a divorce. This results in a new precedent. In the past, such provisions were allowed. Now, prenuptial agreements can no longer waive an individual’s ability to “invade separate property assets.”
Lesson for married or soon to be married couples: Draft prenuptial agreements wisely
It is important to note that prenuptial agreements are still valid in Michigan. The case provides an example of the importance of legal counsel when drafting a prenuptial agreement. A failure to draft wisely and abide by all the rules that govern these documents can result in unintended consequences. An attorney experienced in these matters and the application of Michigan law can mitigate the risk of any surprises.