Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements in Maryland
In modern times it is increasingly common for spouses to enter into a prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. In most cases, these agreements serve to protect the finances of one or both spouses. To provide a broad overview of this topic, the following sections will break down important characteristics of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements under Maryland law. The first section will address prenuptial agreements.
Characteristics of Prenuptial Agreements in Maryland
Prenuptial agreements are essentially contracts executed between two spouses before marriage. Some of the common reasons for a prenuptial agreement include:
- Disparity of wealth between the spouses;
- Business commitments or other contractual obligations;
- Alimony, support payments or other awards;
- Excessive debt accrued by one of the spouses; and
- Wills, estates and trusts that dictate inheritance.
Switching gears from prenuptial agreements, the following section will explore characteristics of postnuptial agreements in Maryland.
Characteristics of Postnuptial Agreements in Maryland
Postnuptial agreements are essentially contracts executed between two spouses after marriage. Some of the common reasons for executing a postnuptial agreement include:
- Distribution of property and marital assets in the event of divorce;
- Existing or continued accrual of debt by one of the spouses;
- Property or asset grant to children from a previous marriage; and
- Future inheritance from a family member.
Moving past the characteristics of prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, the next section will examine how Maryland law governs such agreements.
Maryland Law Governing Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
Unlike many U.S. states, Maryland does not have a specific statute that governs the requirements of prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. Instead, Maryland construes both prenuptial and postnuptial agreements under standard contract law.
In order to evaluate the reasonableness of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, Maryland uses the same requirements and analysis as for any other type of contract. On a threshold level, the agreement must be in writing and include consent from both spouses.
If there is a dispute as to the enforceability of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, Maryland courts will deploy the state-specific approach to contract analysis. Specifically, the court will attempt to determine whether:
- The agreement was reasonable;
- There was “consideration” on both sides, meaning that the agreement did not benefit only one party;
- Both spouses provided honest disclosure of property and assets;
- Both spouses voluntarily and knowingly consented without any indication of coercion; and
- Both spouses consulted with or knowingly and voluntarily waived the ability to consult with independent counsel before agreement execution.
If the prenuptial or postnuptial agreement fails to meet any of the standards above, the agreement may not hold up in court. Consequently, it is extremely important for both spouses to tread carefully when entering into a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement.
Contact Us Today for Help
If you have legal questions about prenuptial or postnuptial agreements, it can be exceedingly beneficial to seek out advice from a trusted family law attorney. Don’t hesitate to contact Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered in Maryland today for help.