Will wedding bells be ringing soon for you? Congratulations! Before tying the knot, you might want to clarify how you and your partner will structure your lives to achieve wedded bliss. There’s a legal tool for this process: a prenuptial agreement. It’s wise to plan beforehand to live happily ever after.
Or perhaps you’ve been married for some time, but your financial circumstances have changed, so you wish you had drafted a prenuptial contract. No worries—there’s a legal tool for that process too, and it’s called a postnuptial agreement.
At Fait & DiLima, LLP, our divorce attorneys know all facets of family law, including prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. Here, they describe the differences between the two legal instruments and when it is appropriate to use them. To schedule a consultation, call us at (301) 251-0100.
Before the Ceremony: Prenuptial Agreement
A prenuptial agreement, also referred to as a prenuptial contract or premarital agreement, is a written, signed contract between two people before they marry. Contract law governs prenuptial agreements in Maryland.
Initially, only celebrities and the extremely wealthy utilized prenups, but now people of all backgrounds have found them to be beneficial documents. Prenuptial contracts are common if the parties:
- Are entering marriage for a second or third time
- Are bringing children from a previous marriage to the new union
- Have property, an inheritance, or an expected inheritance and want those assets to remain under their sole control
- Want to outline alimony limits should a divorce occur
- Have significant personal debt, such as student loans or credit card bills
A prenuptial agreement can also address what the parties agree to if certain things happen during the marriage, such as if the couple has children, acquires property, adopts a dog, is required to move due to employment obligations, and so on.
Will a Prenuptial Agreement Stand Up in Court?
Unless it can be proven that the prenuptial agreement was signed under duress or the terms are unconscionable, the court will implement the prenuptial agreement should the couple file for divorce. Therefore, it is critical to seek the advice of a skilled prenuptial agreement attorney before you sign a contract.
To be clear, if the couple never marries, the prenuptial agreement is invalid and unenforceable.
After Saying “I Do”: Postnuptial Agreement
Since marriage is already a contract between two people, it might seem redundant for a couple to decide on a postnuptial agreement. But there are valid reasons a couple might want a postnuptial agreement, which the State of Maryland views as contract law. Maryland law allows married spouses to make deeds and agreements regarding alimony, support, property rights, or personal rights.
For example, if one spouse starts a business, the couple may sign a postnuptial agreement specifying that the assets of the second spouse are off-limits and cannot be used to support the new company.
A postnuptial agreement can supersede a previous prenuptial agreement. Postnuptial agreements can also be an estate planning tool.
For a couple that is separated but unwilling or unable to divorce, a postnuptial agreement can help them navigate current financial issues, including child support and alimony. However, a postnuptial agreement cannot prevent a spouse from filing for divorce.
To ensure the postnuptial contract is legally sound, couples will require the services of an experienced postnuptial agreement attorney.
Can Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements be Amended?
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can be revised if both parties agree to the changes. A new contract must be drawn up and signed by both parties. Couples should speak to an attorney well-versed in prenuptial and postnuptial agreements for legal guidance.
It Seems Like Tempting Fate
Life brings joys and heartaches, and no one knows what the future may hold. Only you and your partner can decide whether your marriage will be happy.
Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements don’t determine whether your marriage will endure or end. Still, they stipulate specific actions that both partners have already approved in certain situations—having such a contract in place can provide peace of mind and clarity when hard times occur.
Fait & DiLima, LLP: Bold Approaches, Effective Resolutions
Our award-winning legal team has more than 50 years of collective experience helping clients with family law. Numerous couples have drafted their prenuptial and postnuptial agreements with assistance from our innovative and strategic divorce attorneys at Fait & DiLima, LLP. Our compassionate approach during these sensitive proceedings has earned us many testimonials from our clients.
We believe you should know your rights and what to expect from a contract and any other legal arrangement. With offices in Rockville and Frederick, we serve clients throughout Maryland. Call us today at (301) 251-0100 or complete our online form to schedule a consultation.
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