Prenuptial Agreements in Maryland: Do I Need One?

Are you thinking about how to protect your assets before marriage, but are worried that prenuptial agreements are only for the very rich or very skeptical?

Fortunately, prenuptial agreements are no longer viewed as the ominous, unromantic precursors to divorce for a couple. Instead, prenups have become widely recognized as the wisest way to clarify and protect oneself within one of the most significant contracts a person will ever enter into—the contract to marry. This, in addition to the fact that many couples are marrying later in life or entering their second marriage when they already have children from a prior relationship and accumulated a significant amount of wealth on their own accord.

The Benefits of Prenuptial Agreements

There are many advantages to having a prenuptial agreement in place with your soon-to-be spouse. Prenuptial agreements ensure that in the event of a divorce, there will be fewer costs and arguments in a trial, saving the couple thousands of dollars and several hours of their time.

Additionally, litigation is public, lengthy, stressful, and has an unknown outcome depending upon the discretion of a family court judge. Prenups keep the process of separation quick, private, and enforce the preferences of the individual parties.

Prenups are negotiated before marriage, in a time of harmony versus anger, which leads to optimal choices and ideal outcomes for all parties. Before marriage, parties are better able to negotiate the terms of a possible divorce without bitterness and anger.

Prenups can improve the quality of marital life and prevent tension that could contribute to marital discord. A premarital agreement can ensure that the party devoting more time to childrearing and homemaking feels financially protected when sacrificing career opportunities, thus avoiding angst or resentment during the marriage. It can also assure a party with significant premarital assets, which might involve deep bonds with extended family, that divorce will not impact his or her legacy. Also, prenups can allow each party to retain sole ownership of personal property with sentimental value, avoiding fear of loss of treasured possessions.

What Is Included in a Prenuptial Agreement?

The most significant financial issues that arise in a traditional divorce can be settled before divorce in a prenup. Alimony may be agreed upon in a prenup, including whether it will be paid, to whom, how much will be paid, and for what period of time. The disposition of each spouse’s assets, including both real and personal, may be prescribed in a prenup. A prenuptial agreement may specify the disposition of a couple’s retirement funds, as well as their wills and estates and life insurance distribution. Each party’s ability to manage, buy, control, or sell property during the marriage can be agreed upon in the contract as well.  

What Is Not Permitted in a Prenuptial Agreement?

It should be noted that child support and child custody arrangements are not legally permissible aspects of a prenuptial agreement, and will not be enforced by the courts.

How Is a Valid Prenuptial Agreement Executed in Maryland?

A prenuptial agreement is valid if it is in writing and signed by both spouses. Oral agreements are not enforceable by law. The prenuptial agreement becomes enforceable only after the couple marries.

When Is a Prenuptial Agreement Unenforceable in Maryland??

Courts seek to enforce a divorcing couple’s prenup even if there are minor errors in the document. However, if any of the following circumstances are proven, a court will disregard the contract:

  • Fraud. A finding of fraud can invalidate a prenuptial agreement. An example of this would be if one spouse had not disclosed assets to the other.
  • Duress or undue influence. While difficult to prove, showing that one spouse coerced or threatened physical or psychological harm would invalidate the contract.
  • Incompetence. If one spouse was mentally incapable of understanding the prenup at the time of signing it, the agreement will be unenforceable.
  • Unconscionability. A court will rarely weigh in on the terms of a prenup. However, if extreme unfairness in the agreement rises to the level of “shocking,” the court can refuse to enforce it.

Prenuptial agreements should be drafted by experienced attorneys representing each spouse separately. The lawyers at TNS can safeguard your most impactful contract and promote peace of mind during your marriage by drafting a prenup that is enforceable and agreeable to both soon-to-be spouses.

If you have questions about prenuptial agreements, please contact Turnbull, Nicholson & Sanders, P.A. at (410) 339-4100 or Our team of family law attorneys is here to help guide you.

Related Posts: 
Division of Property in Maryland Divorce
What Are the Grounds For Absolute Divorce in Maryland?
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