Written by attorney Peter Michael Kulas

Are Antenuptial Agreements valid in Michigan?

Antenuptial agreements are valid under Michigan law, and persons who enter into such agreements are bound by their terms. MCL 557.28; In re Irwin’s Estate, 335 Mich 143, 55 NW2d 769 (1952).

Antenuptial agreements made in contemplation of divorce as well as in contemplation of death are valid in this state. Booth v Booth, 194 Mich App 284, 486 NW2d 116 (1992); Rinvelt v Rinvelt, 190 Mich App 372, 475 NW2d 478 (1991). Rinvelt adopted the test for validity set forth in Brooks v Brooks, 733 P2d 1044 (Alaska 1987). In Brooks, the Alaska Supreme Court recognized that antenuptial agreements are generally valid and enforceable, provided that the following three questions are considered and answered in the negative:

  1. Was the agreement obtained through fraud, duress, mistake or misrepresentation, or nondisclosure of material fact?

  2. Was the agreement unconscionable when executed?

  3. Have the facts and circumstances changed since the agreement was executed, so as to make its enforcement unfair and unreasonable? 733 P2d at 1049. A court that is addressing the validity of an antenuptial agreement must consider these three criteria. Booth, 194 Mich App 284; Rinvelt, 190 Mich App 372.

Rinvelt did not state whether prior Michigan cases that discuss fraud, duress, and unconscionability in antenuptial agreements in contemplation of death apply to antenuptial agreements in contemplation of divorce.

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