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How to Know If You Need a Postnuptial Agreement

Postnuptial Agreement documentPostnuptial agreements, while nearly unheard of just a few decades ago, are becoming more common these days as couples forego the more traditional prenups but experience changes after the marriage that make a postnup important. We've got a breakdown for you of what a postnup is, what it covers, and when you might think about getting one for you and your spouse.

What Is a Postnuptial Agreement?

A postnup, at its core, isn't that different from a prenup. The documents are structured the same, and typically cover the same ground: listing each spouse's assets, an outline of how those assets will be distributed in the event of divorce or death, and plans for other payments like child support or alimony. The difference is, a postnup is written and signed after the couple is legally wed, where as a prenup is written prior to the marriage. Similarly, to prenups, postnups can be very detailed or very basic, depending on how many eventualities you want to plan for.

What Are the Laws and Guidelines?

In the event that the marriage ends due to divorce, separation, or death, the laws of the state where the couple resides will govern the division of their assets. Maryland governs prenups and postnups under standard contract law— in other words, if a postnuptial agreement is disputed, Maryland courts will use Maryland contract law to analyze its validity.

In order to be upheld in court, a postnuptial agreement must protect both spouses; it can't be entered into through fraud or coercion; and there must be a full and fair disclosure of all assets of both parties prior to signing. If any of these criteria are not met— for example, if one spouse is shown to have hidden significant money from the other— a judge can rule the postnup invalid.

When Should I Get One?

Couples can decide to sign a postnuptial agreement for many reasons. Some of the most common include:

⦁ One spouse is launching a business. A postnup can be signed in order to declare the business and its assets as the sole property of the owning spouse, or designate the other spouse as inheritor upon the owning spouse's death.

⦁ One spouse's financial circumstances have changed, either for better or worse. A postnup can help clarify plans for debt repayment or future payments.

⦁ Estate planning. A postnup can help cover a range of estate planning topics, such as providing for children from a previous marriage or passing assets from businesses on to your heirs.

There are some provisions postnuptial agreements don't cover, such as child support payments or child custody arrangements post-divorce. A judge will make those rulings during the divorce proceedings.

Who Should Represent Me?

Maryland doesn't require that each spouse be represented by a different attorney, but depending on your reasons for seeking a postnup, you may prefer that. If you plan to use the postnup as an estate planning document, working together with a family lawyer may make sense; if you're drawing up the agreement as part of starting a business, you and your spouse may want different representation so as to cover all the bases. The important thing is to work with a knowledgeable attorney who can advise you about how best to protect yourself and your assets, whatever the future holds.

Get Help with a Postnuptial agreement in Maryland from The Attorneys at Lebovitz Law, LLC

Whether you are searching for an experienced lawyer to assist with your divorce, negotiating child support in Maryland or other issues, The attorneys at Lebovitz Law, LLC can help. To learn more about how we can assist you, please contact us today.