Helping Couples Draft Effective and Fair Prenuptial Agreements
Many engaged couples hear the term “prenuptial agreement” and dismiss it, responding that they do not plan on getting divorced. However, while most marry without the goal of divorce in mind, a significant number of married couples continue to file for divorce on an annual basis in the United States. With the divorce filing, the couple will face complex and sensitive issues including child custody, child support, spousal support, property division, and more. Because divorces can be contentious and involve significant anger, it often happens that one spouse tries to leave the other spouse as financially ruined as possible.
However, couples that drafted and signed a prenuptial agreement prior to tying the knot can have a more streamlined and rational divorce because many of these financial issues were settled before their marriage without anger or other emotions present.
What is a Prenuptial Agreement?
A prenuptial agreement (also called a “prenup” or “premarital agreement”) is a practical tool used to control what happens to a couple's finances and property in the event of a divorce. It is a legally binding contract that will be honored so long as the divorce court finds the agreement is enforceable. In order to be enforceable, the following must be true of the agreement:
- It is in writing and both parties willingly signed;
- Both parties agreed to the prenup voluntarily and understood the implications of signing the agreement;
- The terms are not so one-sided or unfair as to be considered unconscionable;
- Both parties fully and accurately disclosed the nature of their property and finances prior to signing the agreement;
- The agreement was not signed in such close proximity to the wedding that coercion may have occurred;
- The prenup does not leave either spouse destitute;
- There was no finding of fraud, mistake, undue influence, or similar wrongdoing.
These are only some factors a court will consider when determining whether a prenuptial agreement is enforceable and factors can vary from case to case.
Who Should Consider a Prenuptial Agreement?
While anyone should consider the benefits of a prenup, this type of agreement is especially important for the following reasons:
- You own property that you want to protect as separate from joint marital property;
- You own a business and want to protect your business interests after a divorce;
- To understand the full picture of your future spouse's financial situation;
- You or your spouse has significantly more wealth than the other;
- You have an estate plan that involves children from a previous relationship;
- To plan to not work and stay home.
What Does a Prenup Cover?
A prenuptial can cover a variety of issues, including:
- Which property will be divided and how;
- How much spousal support an individual will receive;
- What happens to businesses, retirement plans, or other accounts;
- Who can make decisions regarding certain property during the marriage.
There are many other specific financial issues that a prenuptial agreement can cover. Two issues that a prenup can never cover, however, include child custody and child support.
Call for a Consultation with a Maryland Family Law Attorney
Many couples get married without a prenuptial agreement and come to regret it in the future in the event of divorce. While a prenup may not seem like the most romantic gesture, it is always highly important to protect your own rights and interests. The future is unpredictable and you do not want to find yourself after a dissolved marriage with little to no support or without your own valued property. If you are wondering whether a prenuptial agreement is right for you, it is a good idea to discuss your situation with an experienced Maryland family law lawyer.
At The Law Offices of Thomas K. Mallon, LLC, attorney Thomas Mallon has evaluated the situations of many different engaged couples and provided advice on whether or not a prenup was in their best interests. If you decide to move forward with the prenup, we also understand how to draft an effective agreement that not only represents your wishes but that also will be enforceable in Maryland courts should the agreement later be challenged. Please call our office today at 410-847-9075 for a consultation regarding prenuptial agreements or any other family law matter.