Examining 4 Aspects of Spousal Agreements in Maryland
Maryland family law enables married couples to enter into valid and enforceable contracts with each other, such as prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements. Sometimes referred to collectively as spousal agreements, these contracts allow spouses to attach mutually acceptable terms and conditions to their marriage.
- Scope of Spousal Agreements
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-101 enables married couples to enter into valid and legally enforceable agreements, deeds, and settlements. Under this section agreements, deeds, and settlements between spouses may relate to:
- Personal rights;
- Property rights;
- Alimony; and
- Other forms of support.
- Limitation on Spousal Agreements
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-102 creates an important limitation on the spousal ability to enter into contractual arrangements. Agreements, deeds, or settlements between spouses are not allowed to prevent limited or absolute divorce. This prohibition exists whether the spouses executed the agreement:
- While they were living together or apart; or
- Before, during, or after any grounds for divorce existed.
- Modification of Spousal Agreements
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-103 authorizes the state courts to modify certain aspects of spousal agreements. If the spouses in question have any minor children in common, the Maryland courts may modify any provision of a spousal agreement that relates to:
- Child care;
- Child custody;
- Child education; or
- Child support.
This court modification power under Section 8-103 has a threshold requirement. The Maryland courts must ensure that any modification will serve the best interests of the minor children. Otherwise, modification is not proper in this context.
Even in the absence of children. Section 8-103 allows the Maryland courts to modify the alimony or spousal support provisions of these agreements. This modification power applies to spousal agreements executed after 1976. In these situations, the state courts may adjust alimony or spousal support unless the:
- Spousal agreement contains an express waiver of alimony or other support; or
- Provisions governing alimony or spousal support exclude the possibility of court modification.
- Enforcement of Spousal Agreements
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-105 provides the enforcement mechanism for spousal agreements. When a spousal agreement becomes part of a divorce order, the Maryland courts can use powers of contempt to compel performance. This is a powerful tool to ensure that both spouses honor their duties under the spousal agreement.
Even if the spousal agreement exists independent of the divorce order, the Maryland courts can still use their contempt powers. Though this only applies if the agreement, deed, or settlement in question has language indicating incorporation into the divorce order.
Let Us Help You Today
If you have legal questions about prenuptial or postnuptial agreements under Maryland family law, it can be considerably beneficial to speak with a knowledgeable Bel Air family law attorney. The attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in family and criminal law, including prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.