Prenuptial Agreements

Prenuptial Agreements

Preparing a Prenuptial Agreement in Maryland

A prenuptial agreement (“prenup”) is a smart financial planning tool. A marriage is not just a physical, mental and emotional union, but a financial one too. Entering into a pre or postnuptial agreement can provide a sense of security couples require.

To find out how a prenuptial agreement can safeguard your future, contact us today. We’ve been helping individuals like you in the D.C. Metropolitan area, including Rockville, Greenbelt, Silver Spring, Annapolis and surrounding cities for more than 40 years.

Benefits of a Prenup

One of the main reasons why people want a prenuptial agreement is for clarity. For instance, a couple with children from prior relationships may detail what happens to their assets when they die. Without a prenup, the surviving spouse may have the right to claim most if not all of the spouse’s property. This may leave nothing for his children from a prior relationship.

Other reasons for a prenup include:

  • Protection from spouse’s debts
  • Plans to support the other through college
  • Interest in a business
  • Impending inheritance
  • One person is wealthier than the other

In case of a divorce, a prenup may help eliminate potential arguments and expensive litigation. The couple will know how their property is divided and any alimony that is to be paid. Thus, paying a civil litigation law firm before getting married can save a lot of time and fighting later—if a divorce occurs.

What Prenuptial Laws Do and Don’t Allow

Although laws vary from state to state, there are some general rules of prenuptial agreements. The law generally allows couples to keep finances separate and protect each other from debts. Couples can keep property such as family heirlooms or business interests in their specific family. It also defines who gets what if there’s a divorce or death of either party.

There are some demands that can make a prenup unenforceable. As a general rule, the contract must be fair. Thus, parties can’t use the agreement to restrict custody, child support or visitation rights. The contract can’t encourage divorce such as giving a financial incentive to one party if there’s a separation or divorce.

A Prenuptial Agreement Involves Total Disclosure

Couples must hire separate lawyers to represent their interests and the lawyers must be from separate civil litigation law firms. Many prenuptial agreements have been invalidated during divorce proceedings because a spouse did not have separate legal representation during the prenuptial agreement process.

The prenup process requires total honesty. Both parties must fully divulge their assets and debts. This means each person lists all assets such as property, business interests, accounts and money they may have.

Unfortunately, it’s tempting not to list a secret bank account. However, if a divorce occurs and it turns out that one of the spouses was hiding something, a judge can invalidate the prenuptial agreement.

New Law for Prenuptial Agreements

On July 18, 2012, the Commissioners approved the Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act (UPMAA), which replaces the Uniform Premarital Agreements Act (UPAA), approved in 1983. The goal of this new act is to bring clarity and consistency to a range of legal agreements between spouses or those who are about to become spouses – a prenuptial agreement or marital separation agreement.

A number of states currently treat prenuptial agreements and marital agreements under different legal standards, with higher burdens on those who wish to enforce marital agreements.  However, the Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act treats prenuptial agreements and marital agreements under the same set of principles and requirements.

Twenty-six states and the District of Columbia have enacted the UPAA, though Maryland is not yet one of the 27 enacting jurisdictions.

If enacted by the Maryland legislature, the UPMAA would codify rules regarding the process for entering into a prenuptial or marital agreement.  The most important feature of the UPMAA is the requirement that the party receiving a proposed agreement have access to independent legal representation before execution.  The same requirement for access to independent legal advice would apply when parties are already married and seek to enter into an agreement regarding their property and support obligations at death or in the event of a future separation or divorce.

Other provisions of the UPMAA are consistent with existing law in Maryland and the majority of other states.  The agreement must not be the result of duress, must not be unconscionable and parties must either make financial disclosure or expressly waive disclosure.

Our Personal Touch

Houlon Berman is a law firm with offices in Greenbelt and Rockville, Maryland. We have served clients throughout the D.C. Metropolitan area from Potomac, Annapolis, Columbia and surrounding areas for over two decades. The firm’s lawyers always put their clients’ interests at the forefront because they understand the importance of the process.

Find out the answers to your prenuptial agreement questions by speaking with us today. We will offer a consultation that can help you prepare for a better future.

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