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Antenuptial agreement held to be valid and enforceable

The court held that the parties' antenuptial agreement was valid and enforceable, concluding that to invalidate it on the basis of one party's fault would contravene the agreement's clear and unambiguous language, and that as a matter of law, the defendant-wife failed to show that a COC was sufficient to void it. Further, her claim of duress lacked merit, and the agreement was not unconscionable. The court also held that under the agreement's plain and unambiguous language, the LLCs created by the plaintiff-husband during the marriage were not acquired in his individual capacity or name, and that the parties' income was to be treated as marital income and not property subject to division as separate property. Thus, the court affirmed in part and reversed in part the judgment of divorce, and remanded for further proceedings, "particularly a determination regarding the extent to which income earned by plaintiff and derived from the LLCs should be treated as marital income, and whether that marital income was utilized to purchase assets titled to the LLCs." Defendant did not provide any case law supporting "her position that someone's 'fault' in a divorce can constitute an unforeseen" COC. Further, assuming that the alleged abuse "occurred and was unforeseeable," this COC was "not sufficient to void the parties' antenuptial agreement in this instance. The types of changes of circumstances that may void an otherwise valid antenuptial agreement must relate to the issues addressed in the antenuptial agreement. Since the primary focus of the antenuptial agreement addressed spousal support and the division of the parties' assets, any changes of circumstances must relate to these aspects, and here, the domestic abuse does not." The court found that Hutchison did not stand for the proposition that abuse, alone, can constitute a sufficient COC to void an otherwise valid antenuptial agreement. While defendant also claimed that "Michigan's definition of duress is unclear and that the 'unlawful' aspect should be removed," the court disagreed, concluding that the definition "is quite clear and needs no clarification." It rejected her assertions that MCL 552.23 and MCL 552.401 "allow a party to invade the other spouse's separate estate contrary to the terms of a valid antenuptial agreement." The court found that the portion of Reed that "implied that, despite contrary language contained in a valid antenuptial agreement, both MCL 552.23(1) and MCL 552.401 permit a spouse to invade the other spouse's separate estate" was dicta and not binding.


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