Years ago, many people regarded prenuptial agreements as unromantic or an omen of impending divorce. However, these days, attitudes about creating a premarital agreement have drastically changed, with both parties often embracing prenuptial agreements as practical tools to ensure financial predictability in their futures.
According to Axios, 50% of U.S. adults said they at least somewhat supported the use of prenups, although about 1 in 5 married couples has a prenuptial agreement, according to a September Harris Poll survey.
Contrary to the myth that a prenup increases the chances of getting a divorce, its purpose is to solidify a plan for the distribution of assets if you and your spouse decide to dissolve your marriage. As with divorce, each state has its laws governing prenuptial agreements.
Do you have questions about a prenuptial agreement or how to revoke a prenuptial agreement in Maryland?
This blog from an experienced family lawyer explains how Maryland defines a prenuptial agreement, what it could include, and the requirements to make it enforceable. Continue reading to learn more, then contact us at (301) 251-0100 to schedule a consultation that meets your particular needs and situation.
Defining Prenuptial Agreements in Maryland
State laws define prenuptial agreements (“prenups”) as legally binding contracts known as “antenuptial” or “premarital” agreements. A prenup provides a clear roadmap for resolving crucial issues like property division and alimony in case of a divorce and represents an exchange of specific financial terms for the act of matrimony.
Are Prenuptial Agreements Only for the Wealthy?
Previously, many people had a misconception that only rich people required prenuptial agreements. However, protecting your assets and securing your future are vital considerations for everyone, regardless of income. From family businesses to cherished heirlooms, you can safeguard all your possessions and account for future acquisitions with a prenup. If you have children from a previous relationship, a prenuptial agreement upholds their inheritance rights.
Often in a marriage, one spouse focuses on earning and the other manages the household. But what happens if things don’t work out? You can avoid the stress and financial strain that accompany a fight over assets later by discussing the terms of a potential divorce while you’re still getting along. A prenuptial agreement is your vehicle for a smoother separation, should your marriage fall apart.
You can prevent potential conflicts and expenses during the divorce process with this legal document.
What Should Soon-to-Be Spouses Include in a Maryland Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement can include alimony, property rights, and personal rights. Spouses can agree upon financial rights and obligations when they marry and in the future.
Marrying couples often use prenuptial agreements to determine the following issues:
- Marital property and asset division in the event of a divorce
- Each spouse’s right to manage, sell, buy, or control property during the marriage
- Spousal support, including the amount and duration after a separation or divorce
- The division or separation of retirement accounts
- How to distribute the proceeds of life insurance policies
- Whether the spouses should write wills to carry out the terms of the agreement
Does a Maryland Prenuptial Agreement Address Child Custody and Child Support?
Child support and child custody are non-negotiable rights for children, unaffected by prenuptial agreements. Courts determine child support and child custody based on the parents’ financial capacity and the child’s best interest after the parents split. Parents can agree on these issues during divorce or separation, pending a judge’s approval.
What Makes A Prenuptial Agreement in Maryland Enforceable?
Although most states adhere to the Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act, Maryland has its own set of laws which determine a prenuptial agreement’s enforceability in a similar manner as other state contracts.
Document it in Writing
A prenuptial agreement requires both you and your future spouse to sign on the dotted line. Before tying the knot, each partner should be honest about their financial situation, debts, and financial responsibilities unless one of them waives their right to this information in the prenup process. A prenuptial agreement becomes valid once the couple officially says their marriage vows.
Can a Prenup Be Voided?
For either spouse to challenge the validity of a prenup one of the following factors must apply:
- Undue influence
- Unconscionability (extraordinarily unfair)
Courts generally uphold prenuptial agreements, making it difficult to revoke them. The spouse contesting the agreement must prove why it should not be enforced.
Requirements to Challenge the Validity of a Prenup in Maryland
Fraud can render a prenuptial agreement unenforceable by a court. For instance, if a husband hid assets from his wife during the drafting of the agreement, she could not decide what her best interests were pertaining to the contract. While spouses do not have to give full disclosure and every minute detail of every asset, both parties should possess a general understanding of each other’s financial circumstances.
Duress, Coercion, or Undue Influence
To challenge a prenup based on duress or coercion, you must prove that the other spouse threatened physical or psychological harm if you refused to sign the contract. Similarly, one spouse’s influence over the other to force a signature must be grossly unfair for a judge to invalidate the prenup.
In general, minor mistakes won’t affect a prenuptial agreement’s enforceability. Courts seek to uphold a couple’s intentions if they can determine them from the documents and the spouses’ testimony. However, if an egregious error exists that a judge cannot resolve,it could render the prenup invalid.
Although most adults possess the competency to sign agreements, the court could invalidate the prenup if either spouse was incapable of understanding the terms when they signed it. If spouses had a mental deficiency or a mental illness, were too young to sign a contract, or signed the prenup while intoxicated, a judge could also consider them incompetent.
Unconscionability (Extraordinarily Unfair)
Unfair prenuptial agreements can be invalidated by the court, but only if they are so shocking as to defy reason. An agreement that leaves one spouse wealthy while the other walks away with a pile of debts and dependency on public assistance may be considered unconscionable in the extreme.
Has your marriage been annulled or voided? Courts won’t enforce a prenuptial agreement unless an injustice demands it.
Making amendments to your prenup? You must put them in writing and you and your spouse must sign the amended prenup.
Let An Experienced and Knowledgeable Family Law Attorney at Fait & DiLima, LLP Prepare An Enforceable Prenup
The best way to create an enforceable prenup is to consult an attorney who can provide you with legal advice based on state law and extensive knowledge and experience devising solid prenup agreements. Your attorney can include your specific requirements in the prenup and ensure its validity before signing.
Have you been searching online for a “prenup lawyer near me?”
With over 100 years of combined legal experience, our knowledgeable divorce attorneys at Fait & DiLima, LLP can guide you and your partner through the process of creating a valid and legally binding prenup in the event of a divorce. Your investment in obtaining legal information and the professional legal advice you need will help ensure a financially secure future for you and the one you love. We will move mountains for you. Contact us at (301) 251-0100 to schedule a consultation.
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The information in this blog post (“post”) is provided for general informational purposes only and may not reflect the current law in your jurisdiction. No information in this post should be construed as legal advice from the individual author or the law firm, nor is it intended to be a substitute for legal counsel on any subject matter. No reader of this post should act or refrain from acting based on any information included in or accessible through this post without seeking the appropriate legal or other professional advice on the particular facts and circumstances at issue from a lawyer licensed in the recipient’s state, country, or other appropriate licensing jurisdiction.