Many couples in Maryland wish to enter into agreements that protect their financial interests. Both prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can include provisions addressing key issues in a divorce or separation. A Maryland marital agreements lawyer can provide assistance with the negotiation, drafting, and review of a premarital agreement so you can ensure you are making informed choices before signing a contract that affects your rights. A family attorney can also provide the assistance you need.
What Laws Apply in the State of Maryland Related to Marital Agreements
Both prenuptial and postnuptial agreements will be enforced provided they are valid contracts. Maryland Family Law Code Section 11-101 addresses alimony and makes clear that “If a final disposition as to alimony has been made in an agreement between the parties, the court is bound by that agreement as the agreement relates to alimony.”
Code Section 3-205 of Maryland Trusts and Estates law also indicates a surviving spouse can waive the right of election before or after marriage by an agreement or a signed waiver. Unless the waiver has language to the contrary, an agreement providing a waiver in the property or estate of a current or future spouse, or a waiver signed in anticipation of separation or divorce, is a waiver not only of an elective share of property but also of the right to family allowances.
Uniform Premarital Agreement Act
The state has declined to adopt the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act (UPAA), which has been adopted by 27 other states. However, like other locations throughout the U.S., an agreement will not be enforced if it was made under conditions of duress or was entered into based on material misrepresentations, fraud, or material misstatements.
In Cannon v. Cannon, the state court of appeals ruled that parties who enter into an antenuptial in consideration of marriage are entering into a “confidential relationship” and so must deal with each other fairly. If the contract is challenged, the party seeking to enforce the contract has to prove there was no inequity to the other signer. This case also stands for the proposition that if one party to an antenuptial or prenuptial agreement signs the agreement without the advice of counsel they will do so at their own peril.
How Can Having Legal Counsel Help You?
When creating a marital agreement, you need to understand how the divorce laws in Maryland would otherwise apply to your situation. The laws address property division and spousal support but you can make arrangements to opt-out of the defaults in your premarital or postmarital contract or in a separation or divorce settlement you negotiate. Before you agree to accept a different amount than the Maryland court would normally allow, you need to talk to a lawyer about what is in your best interests and if it can be addressed in your marital contract.
You also want to ensure the agreement you create is legally valid because your spouse could otherwise contest it when your marriage ends. This would undermine the protection you thought you had secured for yourself when you negotiated and drafted the contract.
Guidance Through the Negotiation and Drafting Process
A local lawyer can provide you with advice on how you should complete the negotiation and drafting process and whether the provisions being included in your contract are in accordance with the law. Your premarital contract, for example, should not dictate a child support amount or child custody arrangement. The court will not enforce any provisions that do not meet the best interests of the children or comport with current laws on child support. When you are separating or divorcing, however, you can establish a parenting plan together for how custody will be shared and how child support will be calculated. This can become your legally enforceable custody arrangement.
In addition to explaining your rights and helping to create a legally valid marital agreement, your attorney can also provide assistance with the negotiation process in Maryland, can help draft the agreement, and can enforce it or defend against it.
Getting Help from a Maryland Marital Agreements Attorney
A Maryland marital agreements lawyer is here and ready to provide you with invaluable assistance if you are considering entering into an agreement with your spouse. Call today to learn more.