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How can I challenge an unfair prenup?

No one gets married with a plan to get divorced. Even if you hired a lawyer and sat down to sign a prenup, you may not have taken it seriously. It may have just been a thing your fiancé wanted. But you were going to stay married forever, right?

Unfortunately, things don’t always go according to plan, and you may now be staring at divorce. And worse yet? After putting years of your life into your marriage, trying to make it work, you might have to challenge the draconian terms of a prenup you signed when you never dreamed they would affect you.

Four reasons a prenup may not be enforceable

If you’re facing a brutal prenup, we’ve got some good and bad news for you:

  • The bad news is that if the prenup’s valid and enforceable, its terms will stick.
  • The good news is that not every prenup is valid or enforceable.

For a Michigan prenup to be enforceable, it needs to be:

  • Fair (or “conscionable”)
  • Signed voluntarily
  • Made in good faith
  • Written in accordance with the law

Generally, this means that if you want to get your prenup tossed out of court, you need to show it failed to meet these standards. You may be able to rid yourself of certain terms or, possibly, the whole thing if you can show it was:

  • Unconscionable. If the terms of the prenup are blatantly unfair, a court may decide that no reasonable person would find any reason for you to have signed it. Unforeseen changes in circumstance may also render a contract unconscionable. This is a largely subjective argument.
  • Signed under duress. If your fiancé told you to sign the prenup or you wouldn’t get married, that may constitute duress. The argument may be stronger if you’d already arranged the wedding and didn’t have adequate time to consider your options.
  • Fraudulent. If your fiancé hid or undervalued some assets, the court may see that as a sign the contract was made to defraud you of your fair share in the event of a divorce.
  • Written contrary to the law. Prenups can’t touch some things, like child support. And each separate term needs to follow the law, as the Michigan Supreme Court noted when it ruled one husband could not ignore his wife’s contribution to his business.

A better future

When you sign a prenup, you might feel it belongs to some distant, unreal future. But if that unfair prenup starts clouding the future that’s before you now, you deserve to fight it. With the right challenge, you may be able to get it tossed out and reach a more reasonable outcome.