A growing number of couples are opting for prenuptial agreements—sometimes referred to as “prenups”—and they are not just popular among the wealthy. Every couple can benefit from having a prenup in place prior to saying, “I do.” Prenups are legally binding contracts that a couple voluntarily enters into prior to marriage. They provide terms for handling couples’ affairs in the event of a separation or divorce in the future. It is a far better option than leaving everything to chance and having the court decide your personal matters in a prenup case.
It is important to ensure that you have carefully drafted and worded the document to withstand the court’s requirements and to protect yourself from potential future legal battles.
A skilled family law attorney can help pave the way to a mutually agreeable prenuptial agreement that can get your marriage off to a healthier financial start. A fair agreement that is acceptable to both partners can help reduce tensions and let newlyweds focus on enjoying each other and their new life together. For help with a prenuptial agreement, call Hecht & Associates in Maryland at 301-587-2099 to speak with a prenup lawyer.
What are the benefits of having a prenuptial agreement?
Contrary to popular belief, discussing a prenup with your fiancé does not indicate that you question the integrity or future of your marriage. Rather, being clear with your partner about your finances and openly discussing important matters can actually strengthen your relationship. Prenups are especially common amongst people who are in their second or subsequent marriage that have learned the importance of protecting themselves through experience.
A well-prepared and maintained prenup is essentially a smart insurance policy that prevents fewer conflicts later on down the road. Some of the benefits of a prenup include the following:
- Helps you protect your separate property you had prior to divorce
- Provides details about how you will handle alimony in the event of divorce
- Provides future protection for you if you put your career on hold to assist your spouse, maintain the home, or raise children
- Documents and defines what assets the law considers individual (and free from equitable distribution)
- Protects assets you want to secure for your children from a prior marriage
- Helps clarify any type of special agreement between you and your spouse
- Reduces fighting and legal costs in the event of a divorce
- Protects any future inheritances you receive
- Limits your debt liability (without a prenup, your partner’s creditors can come after your marital assets)
- Protects your family business and keeps it within the family
What kinds of issues can prenuptial agreements cover?
You can provide for almost any terms you and your fiancé want in your prenuptial agreement, even those that the court has no jurisdiction over, such as household roles. The only matters a prenup cannot provide for or limit are matters regarding child support and child custody.
Some of the common terms prenups specify include:
- Separate and marital property
- Family dynamics and responsibilities each party will have during the marriage, e.g., wife agrees to set aside her career for X number of years to care for the children, provided she receives spousal support for X number of years in the event of divorce
- Separate businesses
- Retirement benefits
- Management of bank accounts, credit card payments, and savings contributions
- Arrangements for big projects or purchases, such as buying property or starting a new business
- Details regarding tax return claims and deductions
- Means for resolving future conflicts, e.g., arbitration or mediation
- Management of household affairs and bills
- Distribution of property in the event of death
- Putting one spouse through school
Are prenuptial agreements court-enforceable?
Each state decides its own rules regarding prenuptial agreements and their enforceability by the court. Maryland does not have any specific laws about prenups; rather, they are just like any other contract in the state. Once both parties have signed a prenuptial agreement and filed it with the local Clerk of the Court, it becomes binding.
Judges maintain the authority to throw a prenup out if they deem it unfair or if one party coerced the other into it, was under the influence when he or she signed it, or was misguided about the terms.
Courts hold that spouses have a mutual financial responsibility to each other and will not finalize support agreements that grossly favor one party. In order for a prenup to hold up in court, it must use clear and plain language, be devoid of loopholes, and be fair in its scope.
Can Hecht & Associates draft a prenup for me and my fiancé?
Experts recommend that each partner retain his or her own prenup attorney when devising a prenup to protect their interests and avoid conflict. If you are considering getting a prenup, call Hecht & Associates for help from an experienced prenup lawyer.
Our family law attorneys have carefully prepared numerous prenuptial agreements, covering a wide variety of unique terms. We assist clients in Maryland and Washington D.C. Contact us to inquire about a prenup and schedule a meeting at your convenience with a prenup attorney at 301-587-2099.