Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements in Maryland: What They Include & Why You Need One
March 23rd, 2023
For better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish … OK, so these are the promises you make when entering a marriage, but, as we all know, 50% of couples who marry get divorced. And the truth is that there are no vows protecting you once your marriage is over. Regardless of whether you’re the more or less fortunate partner in your relationship, safeguarding your wealth and your wellbeing is just smart.
Aside from this, did you know that 22 percent of divorces are actually caused by money issues? Many couples tend to struggle with the communication aspect of finances during marriage. So while talking about divorce before marriage isn’t, well, romantic, financial agreements made before marriage are actually a very healthy way to ensure safety and security to you both.
Think of prenuptial agreements as a way of making sure both of you are taken care of in the relationship, whether it ends or not. Plus, did you know that prenuptial agreements in Maryland can also include financial obligations (or rights) for each partner at the time of marriage and in the future? Expectations set.
What else does a prenuptial agreement cover in Maryland? What if I’m already married and want one? Keep reading to learn what prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are, why you may need one, and how you can get one.
What are Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements?
A prenuptial agreement is a contract written prior to marriage that protects the assets both spouses bring into marriage as well as how marital assets will be split in the event of divorce. In Maryland, a prenuptial agreement can also cover alimony, property rights, and personal rights.
A postnuptial agreement does the same thing as a prenuptial agreement but is written after the couple is already married. Sometimes, couples will request a postnuptial agreement to reduce conflicts over money in their marriage. Like prenuptial agreements, these contracts can provide security to each spouse. Plus, they can help simplify (i.e., lower the costs of) divorce — if that is potentially on the horizon.
What’s included in prenuptial and postnuptial agreements in Maryland?
So as I already mentioned, prenuptial agreements in Maryland can cover alimony, property rights, and personal rights, but let’s break it down. A prenup in Maryland should include:
- Property acquired before as well as during marriage
- Inheritance rights, including all children
- Alimony and/or monetary awards
It probably goes without saying that if you have extensive assets, whether that’s money, property, businesses, or other, a prenuptial agreement is a smart idea for you. What many don’t know is that these agreements can also protect assets acquired during marriage. Remember, otherwise, all property acquired during marriage are considered marital assets (i.e., part of your divorce’s property division process).
One common example is a retirement account earned during the marriage, which likely will be divided between spouses upon divorce. A prenup can waive one spouse’s claim to these assets.
If you have children from a previous marriage, this is another reason to get a prenuptial agreement. This document can outline how your assets will be distributed within your family in the case of your death. Otherwise, everything will go to your spouse.
In Maryland (unlike several other states), you can also outline a predetermined alimony amount and time period instead of leaving that process up to the courts down the road. However, you cannot include child custody or child support details in prenuptial agreements in Maryland.
What’s most important here is that you have an experienced family law attorney helping you with this contract. One way you can get started before meeting with counsel is by making a list of each of your assets and debts.
How much money justifies a prenup or postnup?
The limit does not exist. But seriously, there is no rule in Maryland law that says you need to have a certain amount of assets to have a prenup or postnup. They aren’t just for the uber rich!
My advice: take a look at that list above. And if you have or are expecting inheritance or a family trust, have significant estate, or have children from a previous marriage, get a prenup.
How Do I Obtain a Prenuptial Agreement in Maryland?
Hire a family law attorney, and tell your partner to hire one as well. Both of you need to have independent counsel if you want the Agreement to be enforceable. Determined to draft this together? That would not be in your best interest. You should hire a separate attorney to review it, answer any questions you have, and negotiate it on your behalf. Having an attorney prepare your prenuptial agreement in Maryland will also help ensure the agreement is enforceable.
You’ll both need to completely disclose all of your assets and debts. Better yet, have an accountant provide financial statements to share and keep records of. Then, to make the contract valid, you’ll need to:
- Make sure it’s in writing
- Both sign the document (in front of a notary to avoid claims it’s unenforceable later)
Can a Prenup in Maryland Be Overruled?
You bet, but it’s not easy. Unlike most states, Maryland doesn’t follow the Uniform Prenuptial Agreement Act, which determines the prenuptial agreement’s validity. Instead, in Maryland, its validity is determined in the same way as other contracts. So, either spouse can challenge the prenup if one of the following are present:
- undue influence
If you’re the one challenging its validity, it’s on you to prove one of the above. You must show that:
- The agreement was unfair at the time that it was entered into, and
- Prior to the agreement, the other party failed to make a frank, full and truthful disclosure of that party’s assets.
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.
I’m often asked about cheating and its effect on prenuptial agreements. But, in Maryland, cheating won’t overrule a prenuptial agreement unless the contract specifically states that. If that’s an important aspect to you, include it!
To learn more about making a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement unenforceable, read my blog post on successfully challenging a prenuptial agreement in Maryland.
If you’re ready to get started with your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, contact me for a consultation.