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3 FAQs On Prenuptial Agreements In Maryland

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Before prospective spouses get married in Maryland, they can execute a prenuptial agreement to govern certain rights in the event of divorce, such as alimony or property division. These agreements are mutually agreeable contracts that are generally valid and enforceable under Maryland law. But state law also prohibits certain terms and conditions from appearing in prenuptial agreements.

  1. What are the Valid Components of a Prenuptial Agreement?

Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-101 outlines the valid components of a prenuptial agreement. Under Maryland law, prospective spouses may make a valid and enforceable agreement that relates to:

  • Alimony — Prospective spouses may determine the amount and duration of alimony or spousal support before marriage, in the event of future divorce;
  • Property Rights — Prospective spouses may determine aspects of property ownership before marriage, concerning property acquired before or after marriage; or
  • Personal Rights — Prospective spouses may determine inheritance and similar rights before marriage, particularly as it relates to the ability of children to inherit.
  1. What are the Invalid Components of a Prenuptial Agreement?

Although prospective spouses may enter into a prenuptial agreement, they are not able to address certain topics. For example, Maryland law does not allow prenuptial agreements to address or include:

  • Child Custody — A prenuptial agreement cannot assign child custody rights, as the Maryland courts must ensure that these arrangements safeguard the best interests of the child involved;
  • Child Support — A prenuptial agreement cannot determine child support obligations, as the Maryland courts must ensure that these arrangements are fair, equitable, and safeguard the best interests of the child involved;
  • Promise to Marry — A prenuptial agreement that requires the prospective spouses to get married is invalid, unless there is a pending pregnancy; or
  • Promise to Divorce — A prenuptial agreement cannot require prospective spouses to divorce immediately after marriage.

Concerning a promise to divorce, there is a specific statute that addresses this issue. Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-102 provides that limited or absolute divorce is possible, even if a prenuptial agreement was executed:

  • When the spouses were living together;
  • When the spouses were living apart; or
  • Before, during, after legal grounds for divorce arose.
  1. Can a Prenuptial Agreement Become Unenforceable?

Generally speaking, prenuptial agreements are valid and enforceable under Maryland law. But there are specific circumstances under which a prenuptial agreement becomes unenforceable due to:

  • Coercion;
  • Duress;
  • Fraud;
  • Gross unfairness;
  • Incompetence;
  • Mistake;
  • Undue influence; or
  • Similar circumstances.

To combat any of the issues above, a prenuptial agreement should always be made in writing and signed by both parties. Additionally, each party should have the opportunity to consult with an independent attorney before executing a prenuptial agreement. Finally, notarization is highly recommended, though not required.

Do You Need Legal Help?

If you have legal questions about prenuptial agreements under Maryland family law, reach out to a skilled Bel Air prenuptial agreement attorney. The team at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered is prepared to assist you today.

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