What is a Postnuptial Agreement under Maryland Family Law?
Maryland family law allows spouses to create legally valid contracts or agreements with each other. When prospective spouses create such a contract before marriage, it is referred to as a prenuptial agreement. These agreements typically address financial imbalances between the spouses or govern property rights.
Even after the spouses get married, they are still allowed to enter into contracts with each other. These contracts are referred to as postnuptial agreements. These agreements allow spouses to formalize their mutual agreement on various important matters, such as personal or property rights and support payments.
Legal Authority to Create Postnuptial Agreements
Maryland Code, Family Law Section 8-101 establishes the legal authority for postnuptial agreements. This section enables spouses to enter into valid and enforceable deeds, agreements, or settlements.
These deeds, agreements, and settlements may relate to:
- Spousal support;
- Child support;
- Property rights; or
- Personal rights.
Stated otherwise, postnuptial agreements can include a wide range of potential provisions. Certain spouses execute a postnuptial agreement to establish clear ownership of property or other things of value. Other spouses agree to waive any future claims to support payments. There are many different possibilities.
Limitation on Postnuptial Agreements
Maryland Code, Family Law Section 8-102 creates an important limitation on postnuptial agreements. This section prevents a postnuptial agreement from interfering with lawful actions for limited or absolute divorce.
In other words, postnuptial agreements cannot prevent either spouse from filing for divorce. This provision holds true regardless of whether the spouses entered into the deed or agreement:
- While living together;
- While living apart;
- Before the grounds for divorce arose;
- While the grounds for divorce arose; or
- After the grounds for divorce arose.
Modification of Postnuptial Agreements
Maryland Code, Family Law Section 8-103 authorizes the state courts to modify certain provisions of postnuptial agreements. These modification powers are reserved for extraordinary situations that relate to children or spousal support.
The Maryland courts may modify any provision of a postnuptial agreement that addresses the care, custody, education, or support of a minor child if the court determines that such modification is in the best interests of the child involved.
The Maryland courts may also modify any provision of a postnuptial agreement that addresses alimony or spousal support. The state courts may only exercise this power concerning postnuptial agreements executed after January 1, 1976; but the state courts may not modify alimony or spousal support provisions if the postnuptial agreement includes:
- Waiver of claim to alimony or spousal support; or
- Provision excluding alimony or spousal support provisions from court modification.
Do You Need Legal Help?
If you need legal assistance with a postnuptial agreement or other facets of Maryland family law, it can be highly advantageous to contact an esteemed family law attorney. The Bel Air family attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in family and criminal law, including postnuptial agreements. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.