What Can Make A Prenuptial Agreement Unenforceable

Prenuptial agreements, often referred to as “prenups,” serve as a proactive measure for couples looking to define the terms of asset division and financial responsibilities before entering into marriage. These agreements are particularly significant in Maryland, where marital law acknowledges their potential to provide clarity and fairness for both parties, should the marriage dissolve. The essence of a prenuptial agreement lies in its ability to protect individual assets, reduce potential conflicts, and facilitate a smoother process in the unfortunate event of a divorce.

Unlike most other states, Maryland lacks a statute specifically governing prenuptial agreements. These agreements, typically addressing property and financial rights in the event of divorce or death, are instead governed by Maryland contract law and Maryland Code, Family Law § 8-101, et seq. According to Maryland Code, FL § 8-101, a married couple can make a fair agreement about the money they owe each other, how much they will help each other financially if they separate, who gets what property they own together, or other things they agree on.

However, the enforceability of these agreements in Maryland is contingent upon a set of legal standards designed to ensure that both parties enter into the agreement freely, fairly, and fully understand its implications. Factors such as coercion, lack of transparency, and unfair terms can render a prenuptial agreement unenforceable. This introduction sets the stage for a deeper exploration into the legal intricacies that govern the enforceability of prenuptial agreements in Maryland, highlighting the critical elements that individuals and their legal counsel must navigate to uphold the validity of these agreements.

Begin The Prenuptial Agreement Process Early

Starting the planning process early is crucial. For a prenuptial agreement to be considered valid in court, it must not be signed under duress. Prenups drafted hastily, especially just weeks, days, or right before the wedding, are often viewed with suspicion and may be deemed invalid. To ensure the enforceability of your prenuptial agreement, it’s advisable to consult with a knowledgeable Maryland family law attorney promptly after making the decision to marry. Remember, the agreement can be modified or revoked as circumstances change over time. Our firm offers comprehensive family law services both before and after marriage.

Reasons Why A Maryland Court Could Rule Your Prenup Is Invalid

While prenups are common and generally enforceable, there are circumstances under which a prenuptial agreement in Maryland may be deemed unenforceable. Understanding these reasons is crucial for couples considering entering into such agreements. The following is a list of situations that could make a prenuptial agreement invalid:

Lack of Full Disclosure

One of the primary reasons a Maryland prenuptial agreement may be invalidated is if there is a lack of full disclosure of assets and liabilities by one or both parties. Failure to disclose significant assets or debts can undermine the validity of the agreement, as it may indicate that one spouse did not fully understand the implications of what they were agreeing to.

Maryland courts take the disclosure requirement seriously to ensure that both parties enter into the agreement with a clear understanding of each other’s financial situations. If one party can prove that the other failed to disclose assets or debts, the court may invalidate the entire agreement or certain provisions within it.

Coercion or Duress

Another common reason for the unenforceability of a prenuptial agreement in Maryland is coercion or duress. If one party can demonstrate that they signed the agreement under duress or undue pressure, a court may declare the agreement invalid. Coercion can take many forms, including threats, manipulation, or emotional blackmail.

Maryland courts closely scrutinize the circumstances surrounding the signing of a prenup to ensure that both parties entered into the agreement willingly and without any coercion. If there is evidence that one spouse exerted undue influence over the other or that one party felt compelled to sign the agreement against their will, the court may refuse to enforce it.


A prenuptial agreement may also be deemed unenforceable in Maryland if its terms are unconscionable. Unconscionability refers to provisions that are so one-sided or unfair that they shock the conscience of the court. While Maryland courts generally uphold the principle of freedom of contract, they will not enforce agreements that are grossly unfair or oppressive.

In determining whether a prenuptial agreement is unconscionable, Maryland courts consider factors such as the parties’ respective bargaining power, the circumstances surrounding the formation of the agreement, and the fairness of its terms. If a court finds that the agreement unfairly favors one party over the other or results in a grossly inequitable outcome, it may refuse to enforce it.

Lack of Legal Representation

One common mistake that couples make when drafting a prenuptial agreement in Maryland is failing to seek independent legal representation. While it may be tempting to save money by using a single attorney to draft the agreement, doing so can create conflicts of interest and undermine the enforceability of the agreement.

We strongly encourage each party to consult with their own attorney before signing a legally binding agreement to ensure that their rights and interests are adequately protected. If one party did not have the opportunity to consult with legal counsel or if the terms of the agreement were not fully explained to them, a court may invalidate the agreement on the grounds of lack of legal representation.

Protect Your Financial Future: Consult Our Maryland Prenuptial Agreement Attorney

Prenuptial agreements serve as valuable tools for couples in Maryland to outline the terms of their financial relationship and asset division in the event of a divorce. By understanding these legal intricacies, individuals can ensure that their prenuptial agreements serve their intended purpose, providing clarity and security for both parties involved.

Beginning a life together in marriage is a mix of excitement and the necessity for careful preparation. Ensuring the protection of your personal assets and legal rights is crucial for a stable future. Step into this new phase with confidence by seeking guidance from Shah & Kishore. Contact our Maryland prenuptial agreement attorneys at Shah & Kishore at (301) 315-0001 for a consultation.

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