How to File a Prenuptial Agreement in Maryland
Many people raise their eyebrows at the idea of a prenuptial agreement, wrongly believing the only reason to file one is because a couple doesn’t trust each other or doesn’t believe the marriage will last. But there are many valid reasons to file a prenuptial agreement in Maryland and elsewhere, even for couples with a strong, loving bond. Protecting assets for children from prior marriages that would otherwise be subject to inheritance laws, protecting business assets, and addressing obligations from previous marriages, are all reasons for a prenuptial agreement.
Prenups also protect one partner from debts the other had before the marriage. A prenuptial agreement is not a matter of mistrust, it’s a way for each partner to protect themselves, each other, and their children.
If you and your fiance live in Maryland and have agreed to a prenuptial agreement before the wedding, it’s important to understand the process for filing one in Maryland.
What Is a Prenuptial Agreement in Maryland?
In Maryland, a prenuptial agreement is also sometimes called a premarital agreement. Couples of all income levels use prenuptial agreements to clearly define or settle their mutual financial futures. Having a prenuptial agreement does not make divorce more likely for a couple any more than buying car insurance makes you more likely to have an accident. Both offer protection in case the worst happens.
A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract signed by both parties before their marriage. These agreements typically settle issues related to property and businesses belonging to individuals entering into a marriage. It also defines inheritance rights and predetermines alimony in the event of a future divorce. In Maryland, prenuptial agreements fall under the category of contract law.
What is the Process for Filing a Prenuptial Agreement in Maryland?
While not necessary by law, many attorneys recommend premarital negotiation with a neutral mediator to discuss any issues with the potential to cause difficulties later. Because a court could invalidate a prenup if it suspects fraud, undue influence, or duress, it’s important for each future spouse to have a separate lawyer representing them. Prenuptial agreements must be in writing and signed by each party in the anticipated marriage. They must include complete financial disclosures. Hiding assets may later constitute fraud that invalidates a prenuptial agreement.
In rare instances, a court may overturn a prenuptial agreement if its unfairness rises to an unconscionable level. By having lawyers draft and file your prenuptial agreement you can avoid these potential pitfalls.
What Can’t Be in a Prenuptial Agreement?
Some issues do not have legal standing in a prenuptial agreement. For instance, a prenup contract can’t decide on child custody or child support. Couples cannot agree to marry and then divorce later in a prenuptial agreement. The courts can’t enforce a written promise to marry. Prenuptial agreements cannot be enforced if a couple never marries or if the marriage is annulled.
It’s essential for each potential spouse to have his or her own attorney to represent their best interests when drafting a prenuptial agreement.
Prenuptial agreements are not only for the super-wealthy, they are for anyone who understands that marriage itself is a contract. The purpose of a prenup is to anticipate possible future changes and to prepare for them ahead of time.