Rinvelt v. Rinvelt Case Brief

Summary of Rinvelt v. Rinvelt, 190 Mich. App. 372 (1991)

Facts: Prior to marriage the parties entered into a antenuptial agreement drafted by an attorney. Within which both had an unrestricted right to 10% interest, after expenses, in the other’s estate upon divorce, annulment, or separation. If those terms were against public policy they agreed the remaining provisions would be binding. They divorced four years later.

Issue: Whether an antenuptial agreement, made in contemplation of divorce, is contrary to public policy and therefore void under the laws of Michigan?

Holding: No, antenuptial agreements governing the division of property in the event of divorce are enforceable in Michigan.

Procedure: After trial the circuit court granted divorce and enforced the antenuptial agreement, which resulted in an award of $228K in favor of the Pl wife. Df appealed. Ct of App. Affirmed

Rule: A contract relating to property made between persons in contemplation of marriage shall remain in full force after marriage takes place. Any effective provision is not against public policy if it does not provide for, facilitate, or tend to induce separation or divorce.

Rationale: In order for an antenuptial agreement to be valid it must be fair, equitable, and reasonable in light of the surrounding circumstances and facts. It must be entered into voluntarily by both parties, each understanding their rights and the extent of any waiver of those rights. Thus full disclosure is required, as well as it should be free of fraud, lack of consent, mental incapacity, or undue influence. The burden is upon the party challenging its validity. The traditional C.L. view is outdated as being against public policy. Divorce is common-place, laws governing divorce have changed as did society. Prenupts provide people with opportunity to ensure predictability, plan for their future, and think thoroughly about the financial aspects of marriage beforehand.

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