A prenuptial agreement is a contract between two people that intend to marry. It typically defines what will be considered marital property and what will remain each individual’s separate property. It may include provisions that set limits and guidelines for spousal support (alimony) in the event of a divorce. A prenuptial agreement is designed to remove or at least minimize the uncertainty of how the parties will resolve financial issues in the event of a divorce. It is best to have a prenuptial agreement prepared and executed long in advance of the wedding so the neither party feels unduly stressed or pressured to do so at the last minute. Keep in mind also that laws regarding prenuptial agreements vary form state to state, so be sure to consult with an attorney in the appropriate jurisdiction.
Historically, prenuptial agreements were considered unromantic and couples did not want to use them because they thought it meant they were essentially planning for divorce. Today, that mindset has largely changed and prenuptial agreements are becoming increasingly popular. Prenuptial agreements generally distinguish separate property from marital property and are designed to set forth how assets will be divided upon divorce. A prenuptial agreement also can set forth parameters and guidelines for the determination of spousal support (alimony) in the event that the marriage dissolves.. When creating a prenuptial agreement, there are certain things everyone should know to ensure their rights are protected.
Who Needs a Prenuptial Agreement?
Just as prenuptial agreements were once considered a romance killer, there was also the misconception that only wealthy individuals required them. Today though, many couples are entering into these agreements, regardless of their income level.
Prenuptial agreements can protect assets that individuals greatly value, including a large family business or family heirlooms. They can also protect future inheritances if the marriage is going to involve children from a previous relationship. If one spouse is going to stay home and raise the children while the other spouse works and earns the income for the household, issues such as alimony can also be outlined in a prenuptial agreement.
Drafting a prenuptial agreement prior to the marriage is often much easier and much more amicable than trying to sort out these issues during the time of divorce when the spouses may feel more contempt toward each other.
Ensuring Prenuptial Agreements are Enforceable
Although prenuptial agreements are a great way to protect individuals in the case of divorce, they are only helpful if they are enforceable. A prenuptial agreement is treated just like any other contract in Maryland, so there are certain rules associated with them.
In Maryland, prenuptial agreements must be in writing, and signed by each spouse named in the document. Each spouse must also fully disclose all of his or her assets and debts, unless one spouse has waived the right to that information. Each party must also retain his or her own legal counsel, as it is considered a conflict of interest for one lawyer to represent both individuals and this can deem a prenuptial unenforceable.
Additionally, both parties must sign the agreement willingly without the interference of fraud, undue influence, or by mistake.
Do keep in mind that the laws pertaining to the interpretation and enforceability of prenuptial agreements varies from one state to the other.
Factors Prenuptial Agreements Will Not Protect
Although a prenuptial agreement can make provisions for things such as alimony and property division upon divorce, there are certain factors it will not protect. If there are children involved in a marriage, a prenuptial agreement cannot outline arrangements for child custody or child support, as a judge will determine what is in the best interests of the child in these situations.
Contact Our Maryland Family Lawyers Today
Prenuptial agreements offer a great deal of protection to individuals about to get married, but it is always important to work with a Greenbelt family lawyer or a Rockville family lawyer when drafting one. At Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, PA, we can help you draft an agreement that is fair and enforceable and that will protect your best interests. When it is time for you to enter into a prenuptial agreement, call or e-mail a lawyer at Joseph, Greenwald & Laake, P.A. to schedule an appointment.
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