What is the Maryland Difference Between Prenuptial & Postnuptial Agreements?
Maryland family law enables spouses to enter into legally enforceable agreements and other devices, before and after marriage. When prospective spouses enter into such an agreement before marriage, it is referred to legally as a prenuptial agreement. When they do so after marriage, it is referred to legally as a postnuptial agreement.
Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-101 establishes the general validity of deeds, agreements, or settlements between spouses. Under this section, spouses are allowed to enter into legally valid and enforceable deeds, agreements, or settlements. Section 8-101 limits these deeds, agreements, and settlements to matters concerning:
- Alimony or spousal support;
- Child support;
- Property rights; or
- Personal rights.
There is an important exception under Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-102. Even if spouses enter into a valid deed, agreement, or settlement, it does not prevent either from filing for divorce. In other words, either spouse can terminate the marriage, if there are legal grounds to do so.
After spouses enter into a valid deed, agreement, or settlement, it is difficult to modify or amend the underlying terms and conditions. Generally speaking, both spouses must agree in writing to any modifications or amendments. But in certain circumstances, the Maryland courts may intervene and amend the terms of a deed, agreement, or settlement between spouses.
For example, Maryland Code of Family Law Section 8-103 allows the state courts to modify terms concerning children or spousal support. But the following conditions apply:
- Children — The courts may change any terms relating to child custody, support, or care, if doing so is in the best interests of the child.
- Support — The courts may change any terms relating to alimony or spousal support, unless there is an express prohibition against court modification.
A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract between prospective spouses that is executed before marriage. Sometimes referred to as prenups, these agreements allow prospective spouses to create certain legal conditions that will govern their potential marriage or divorce.
Prenups come in many different shapes and sizes — generally tailored to the individual needs of the prospective spouses in question. But there are many common reasons for which prospective spouses enter into a prenup, including:
- Imbalance of wealth or property rights;
- Present or future inheritance rights;
- Business interests of either prospective spouse;
- Preexisting spousal or child support obligations; or
- Debt or similar legal or financial obligations.
Essentially, prenups allow spouses to make their marriage conditioned upon certain factors. If either spouse refuses to agree to the terms of the prenup, the marriage might never happen.
A postnuptial agreement is a legal contract between spouses that was executed after marriage. Sometimes referred to as postnups, these agreements allow spouses to create certain legal conditions that will govern the future of their marriage or potential divorce.
There are many common reasons for entering into postnups, mirroring the reasons outlined in the previous section for prenups. Though ideally, each postnuptial agreement should be customized to meet the specific needs of the spouses involved.
As postnuptial agreements occur after marriage, the spouses cannot force each other to agree. But mutual acceptance can alter the way the spouses handle future debt or potential divorce.
Let Us Help You Today
If you need legal help with prenuptial or postnuptial agreements under Maryland law, it can be thoroughly beneficial to consult with an experienced Bel Air family law attorney. Based in Bel Air, Maryland, the attorneys at Schlaich & Thompson, Chartered have more than 60 years of combined legal experience in family and criminal law, including prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. If you need legal help, contact us today for an initial consultation.