Signing a prenuptial agreement is like signing a contract. However, rather than being between individuals doing business, it is signed by you and your future spouse before marriage.
Prenuptial agreements protect assets, address financial concerns, and prevent other possible issues before marriage. The contract helps to reduce conflict if the marriage ends in divorce. They also encourage communication about important issues before marriage between you and your future spouse.
Knowing what it can and cannot include is essential if you are interested in a prenuptial agreement. At Brodsky Renehan Pearlstein & Bouquet, we can help create this document and ensure it is legally binding. You can also learn more about the prenuptial agreement here.
Why Consider a Prenuptial Agreement?
If you’re getting married, a prenuptial agreement might not be the first thing on your to-do list, but it’s worth considering. It can serve as a financial safety net and clarify your marital expectations. Especially in Maryland, where property division laws during a divorce can be complex, having a prenup can make the process less arduous.
Some of the things you can and cannot include in this agreement include:
Types of Property
When you marry in Maryland, you and your spouse will have non-marital and marital property.
Marital property includes assets you purchase or acquire while you are married. This is true regardless of whose name is on the official documents. Items like homes and vehicles acquired during the marriage usually fall under this category.
Non-marital property involves assets you individually owned before tying the knot or that you acquired during your marriage through inheritances, personal gifts, or assets you explicitly agreed would remain separate. These remain your property unless they get mixed or “commingled” with marital assets.
Importance of Clear Definitions
Being clear about these categories in your prenuptial agreement ensures that you’re both on the same page, which will streamline any potential property division process. For the best results, it’s advisable to consult a family law attorney familiar with Maryland law to guide you in these classifications.
Financial Rights and Obligations
A prenuptial agreement serves as a platform to articulate each partner’s financial rights and obligations in a marriage. This may involve specifying who is responsible for paying which bills, handling household expenses, or even managing investments.
Structuring Accounts and Debts
You may also decide how to structure financial accounts. Will you maintain separate accounts, operate a joint account, or use a combination? Likewise, the agreement may delineate how debts—pre-existing and those incurred during marriage—will be handled. Knowing who is accountable for what may prevent financial misunderstandings down the line.
Importance of Explicit Agreements
Explicitly stating these financial particulars in your prenuptial agreement may save both parties significant stress and potential future disagreements. It may serve as a roadmap for your financial journey together, but remember that for comprehensive protection, consult a family law attorney knowledgeable about Maryland’s specific regulations.
Division of Assets
Without a prenuptial agreement, Maryland law governs how marital assets are divided in the event of a divorce. The state adheres to an “equitable distribution” model, which doesn’t necessarily mean a 50-50 split but rather a fair division based on various factors like the duration of the marriage, contributions of each spouse, and the parties’ economic standing.
Tailoring Asset Division Through a Prenup
However, a prenuptial agreement allows you to predetermine how your assets will be divided, sidestepping the default state guidelines. Whether you want to split assets equally or have another ratio in mind, specifying this in a prenup provides clarity and avoids potential disputes.
Legal Guidance for Secure Arrangements
To ensure that your agreement is both fair and enforceable, it’s essential to consult a family law attorney versed in Maryland regulations. With legal guidance, you can create an asset division arrangement that accurately reflects your mutual intentions and stands up to legal scrutiny.
Spousal support, commonly known as alimony, is financial assistance that one spouse may be obligated to pay to the other after a divorce. In Maryland, the court considers several factors when determining spousal support, such as the ability of each spouse to be self-supporting, the duration of the marriage, and the standard of living established during the marriage.
Prenup Provisions for Alimony
A prenuptial agreement allows you to set predetermined terms for spousal support regarding the amount and duration. Doing so provides both parties with financial security and expectations should the marriage end.
The Need for Legal Expertise
Given the complexity and potential flexibility of spousal support agreements in Maryland, consulting a family law attorney is crucial for crafting a prenup that is both fair and likely to be upheld in court. This legal guidance ensures that your agreement complies with state laws and adequately addresses the financial needs of both parties.
Child Custody and Support
Regarding child custody, Maryland law prioritizes the child’s best interests above all else. A prenuptial agreement cannot include provisions regarding custody or child support. Those issues must be resolved between the parties or by the court.
What You Cannot Include
Specific provisions are prohibited in Maryland prenuptial agreements.
Provisions Promoting Divorce
Additionally, a prenuptial agreement cannot include any provisions that incentivize or encourage divorce. Any such clauses can result in the agreement being partially or entirely invalidated by a Maryland court, as they go against public policy that favors marriage sanctity.
Why Consult a Family Law Attorney?
Creating a comprehensive and enforceable prenuptial agreement isn’t as simple as downloading a form off the internet. It requires a nuanced understanding of Maryland’s laws and how they may apply to your circumstances. That’s where a knowledgeable family law attorney comes in. A well-versed attorney will guide you through the complexities of Maryland’s legal landscape to ensure your prenup is fair and binding.
Secure Your Future Today
A prenuptial agreement may not be the most romantic topic, but it is a practical tool that can protect both parties in a marriage. If you’re considering a prenup, consult a seasoned family law attorney to guide you through Maryland’s specific legal requirements. It’s always better to be prepared and secure your future today, allowing you to fully enjoy your life together, unburdened by financial uncertainties.
If you are ready to discuss creating a prenuptial agreement, contact Brodsky Renehan Pearlstein & Bouquet today for a consultation. Our experienced family law attorneys can provide professional guidance to craft a prenuptial agreement that stands up in court. Secure your future—reach out to us now.