Getting married is always a major step in life. Marriage creates a legal bond between two people, and any assets or debt that a person obtains while they are married will be considered marital property under Maryland law.
This creates complicated legal issues when a marriage ends in divorce. Judges in Bethesda exercise great discretion when dividing a divorcing couple’s assets or deciding whether to award spousal maintenance, among other things. One way to keep control over these matters is to enter into a marital contract.
A Bethesda marital agreements lawyer could help you draft a legally binding spousal contract before you marry, after you have already married, or even as a way to initiate a divorce. A dedicated family law attorney from our firm would be familiar with the various types of marital agreements available in Bethesda and could make choosing a contract that fits your needs much easier.
The Role of Spousal Contracts
Bethesda courts are required by state law to equitably distribute a couple’s marital property upon divorce. This means that any property that either spouse acquires during their marriage may be considered marital property subject to equitable division upon divorce.
However, the law does recognize that assets which were owned prior to marriage may remain separate and non-marital property and therefore would not be subject to distribution upon divorce. Certain assets like bank accounts, businesses, or even real estate that one party owned before their marriage may still fall under the category of marital property if there was commingling of marital and non-marital assets involved.
According to Maryland Code, Family Law §8-205, local courts divide a couple’s marital assets in a way that puts both parties on an equitable, although not equal, financial footing after a divorce. Entering into a marital agreement can take the uncertainty out of a potential, future divorce and the division of assets.
A valid spousal contract will dictate the terms of assets division, alimony, retirement rights, and more in a potential divorce. If the marriage does not dissolve, the agreement has no legal effect. A Bethesda spousal contracts attorney could help a couple decide on potential marital issues before or during their marriage to help expedite a future divorce.
Types of Marital Agreements
All marital contracts require the parties to willingly enter the agreement. In fact, one way to contest the enforceability of a marital agreement is to allege that a person signed it under threat or force. The terms of a spousal contract are legally binding in the event of divorce, as long as they do not violate any laws or threaten the wellbeing of any involved children.
The most common and well-known type of marital agreements are prenups. These may be entered into prior to getting married. Alternatively, postnuptial contracts allow couples to enter into an agreement after marriage.
The final category of marital contracts is separation agreements. These are useful for couples who have already made the decision to divorce or who wish to reconcile their marital issues after taking some time to live separately.
A separation agreement can be incorporated into a final divorce decree as long as the spouses do not share children because these contracts cannot contain any provisions on child custody or parenting time. A marital contracts lawyer in Bethesda could explain the benefits of each type of agreement and how they can impact a divorce case.
Let a Bethesda Marital Agreements Attorney Help You Draft a Contract
Considering a divorce is something that no couple wishes to do. However, it does benefit both members of a couple to evaluate their assets and what affect a divorce may have on their futures. Family courts in Bethesda have substantial discretion when deciding on a divorcing couple’s marital issues and assets, but spousal contract allows both parties to a marriage to dictate how they want the dissolution of their marriage to look.
A Bethesda marital agreements lawyer could help you secure your future before or during your marriage. Call us today to schedule an appointment so you can begin drafting your spousal contract.