Prenup + Postnup Agreements

Howard County Divorce Attorney

She's a snake! Ms. Jacobson was professional, courteous, yet pulled out the fangs when the misses and her esquire tried to get cute. I would definitely hire her again.

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Prenuptial agreements, often referred to as “prenups,” are contracts entered into by couples prior to marriage. Postnuptial agreements, also known as postnups, are similar except they are entered into by couples after marriage. Both agreements are used to protect assets brought into the marriage by one or both spouses in the event the couple should divorce. A thorough and carefully considered prenuptial agreement will reduce the stress and expense associated with a contentious divorce since many issues will be addressed within the agreement.

While not every couple needs a prenup, they may be especially helpful if either you or your future spouse have extensive assets, an ownership interest in a family business, or children from previous relationships. Prenuptial agreements can also be used to clarify how you intend to distribute your assets upon your death.

It is not always easy to broach the subject of entering into a prenuptial agreement with your future spouse. However, having such a discussion and predetermining how your assets will be divided in the event of a divorce may actually strengthen your relationship.

Prenup + Postnup Agreements lawyer - jacobson family law - Maryland - cary jacobson

Prenuptial agreements, often referred to as “prenups,” are contracts entered into by couples prior to marriage. Postnuptial agreements, also known as postnups, are similar except they are entered into by couples after marriage. Both agreements are used to protect assets brought into the marriage by one or both spouses in the event the couple should divorce. A thorough and carefully considered prenuptial agreement will reduce the stress and expense associated with a contentious divorce since many issues will be addressed within the agreement.

While not every couple needs a prenup, they may be especially helpful if either you or your future spouse have extensive assets, an ownership interest in a family business, or children from previous relationships. Prenuptial agreements can also be used to clarify how you intend to distribute your assets upon your death.

It is not always easy to broach the subject of entering into a prenuptial agreement with your future spouse. However, having such a discussion and predetermining how your assets will be divided in the event of a divorce may actually strengthen your relationship.

Prenup + Postnup Agreements lawyer - jacobson family law - Maryland - cary jacobson

FAQs

What’s the difference between a prenup and a postnup?

The main difference between a prenup and a postnup is the timing of when the agreement is signed. As the names suggest, a prenuptial agreement is signed before a couple gets married and a postnuptial agreement is signed after a couple is already married.

What Do Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements Cover?

Prenups and postnups are contracts between couples that outline how they will divide assets in the event of a divorce. A prenup can also protect the income or assets you earn during the marriage. Without a prenup, you may be required to pay alimony in the event of a divorce. However, a prenup, you can predetermine a specific alimony amount or even eliminate it altogether.

The one thing that cannot be handled by a prenup (or a postnup) is anything dealing with the couple’s existing or future children. Prenup provisions of this nature are generally found to be unenforceable.

Who Should Consider a Prenuptial Agreement?

Prenups aren’t for everyone. You may not need one if you are a young couple getting married for the first time and bringing few or no assets to the marriage unless either of you is expecting to receive a large inheritance or will be the recipient of a large family trust.

On the other hand, prenups are essential for couples entering the marriage with significant assets of their own or a large estate. In this case, a prenuptial agreement can help protect each spouse’s premarital assets.

If you have a significant estate and children from a previous relationship to whom you want to leave a portion, or all, of the estate, it is critical that you have a prenuptial agreement. If you do not sign a prenuptial agreement that spells out these details, your new spouse will automatically receive a portion of your estate upon death.

What Are the Basic Requirements of Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement?

To be valid and enforceable, pre & postnuptial agreements must, at a minimum, meet the following basic requirements:

Written – Oral Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements will not be considered valid. They must be in writing.

Voluntary – Both parties to a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement must have signed the agreement voluntarily and intentionally. Any indication that one party coerced or threatened the other into signing will make a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement null and void.

Disclosure – Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements must include full and fair disclosure of assets in order to be considered a valid and enforceable agreement. At the time each party enters into the agreement, they must each make a full and fair disclosure to the other of his or her assets, liabilities, and income. This is a critical because prenuptial and postnuptial agreements are designed to spell out how assets, liabilities, and financial support would be handled if the marriage was to end. If the information that one party relied on was not accurate or complete, the agreement will not be enforceable.

Fair – Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements must not be unconscionable. If the family court finds that the prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is extremely one-sided or benefits one spouse grossly over the other, it will be seen as unconscionable and thus unenforceable.

Validly executed – Generally speaking, to make a postnuptial agreement valid, both parties’ signatures need to be notarized. Some state laws may impose additional requirements, such as a requirement that the parties’ signatures be witnessed.

What If We Want to Change Our Agreement?

As long as you and your spouse agree, you prenuptial or postnuptial agreement can be changed. You may also need to modify your agreement if your financial circumstances change or if you and your spouse have children together. To make changes to your prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, you willl need to add a revision to the agreement, which is called an amendment. The amendment is usually an additional page, or pages, attached at the end of the agreement. The amendment modifies the parts of the agreement you and your partner want updated. The amendment is typically written by a lawyer because of its legal nature. You’ll have to have the entire agreement signed and notarized to make the changes valid.

Can a prenuptial agreement contract for child custody?

No. While a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is designed to determine an outcome in the event of divorce or death, some issues cannot be predetermined. A prenuptial agreement cannot contract for the custody of children, especially if they have not yet been born. It is also impossible for a prenup to prearrange how much a parent will pay for child support.

Can alimony be totally waived with a prenup?

Yes. Prenuptial agreements usually address alimony and property division. There are some states that do not allow the parties to waive alimony in a prenuptial agreement; however, Maryland is not one of those states. A prenup that includes a waiver of alimony is likely to be closely scrutinized by the court if challenged.

Are prenups applicable in same-sex marriages?

Yes. Gay and lesbian couples in Maryland have the same right as anyone else to enter into prenuptial or postnuptial agreements. Jacobson Family Law works with many LGBT couples looking to enter into prenuptial or postnuptial agreements.

Do we both need lawyers if my fiance’s lawyer prepared the prenuptial agreement?

A lawyer can only represent one spouse in the negotiation of a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Therefore, it is necessary for you to have independent counsel to review the prenuptial agreement to ensure your rights are protected.

Can a couple work together to create a prenuptial agreement?

Absolutely. They can do so with the guidance of independent counsel or the use of a neutral mediator in premarital mediation. Premarital mediation can be used to assist the couple in reaching agreements regarding saving and spending styles, the expectation for financial support upon divorce, and property division in the event of divorce or death.

How do I get started with preparing a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement?

Schedule an appointment with Jacobson Family Law to learn how a Prenuptial or Postnuptial Agreement may benefit you.

Learn More About What We Can Do For You.

Jacobson Family Law serves clients across Annapolis, Columbia, Ellicott City, Towson, Owings Mills, Baltimore, and Frederick. To speak to an attorney, call 443-917-1517 or schedule an appointment.