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A premarital contract (often referred to as a “prenup” or “prenuptial agreement”) between prospective spouses typically provides for the way in which property is to be divided in the event of divorce. The validity of these agreements is determined by basic contract principles. This means that contract defenses such as fraud, duress, coercion, mistake, undue influence, incompetency, or unconscionability (gross unfairness) may be asserted in challenging a prenuptial agreement.
The burden of proof is on the person challenging the validity of a Maryland prenuptial agreement, and they must show that:
If these two conditions are established, the person seeking to enforce the agreement must prove that the agreement was entered into by the other party voluntarily, freely, and with full knowledge of the agreement’s meaning and effect. Also, the enforcing party’s case is strengthened if the challenging party entered into the agreement after receiving independent legal advice.
A confidential relationship exists as a matter of law between the parties to a prenuptial agreement. As a result, the burden of proof, which normally would be on the person challenging the validity of an agreement in a business setting, is instead on the person seeking to uphold the agreement.
Additionally, alimony provisions in prenuptial agreement that waive a person’s right to alimony are valid and are not void on public policy grounds.
Rockville, Maryland divorce attorney Dana Whitten represents clients throughout Maryland. Get more answers here to your frequently asked questions about Maryland divorce. Contact the Law Offices of Dana K. Whitten for a consultation about your specific concerns.