The Prenup. Often unfairly painted with a sinister aura, an Antenuptial or Prenuptial Agreement can provide security and a plan of action in the unfortunate event that a marriage ends in divorce. It can also bar your right to receive otherwise standard support and marital property. For this reason, it is imperative that any person seeking or considering signing a Prenuptial Agreement seek legal counsel long before the anticipated wedding date.
Once invalid in this State as contrary to public policy, Maryland does now recognize Prenuptial Agreements as binding and enforceable. However, in order for a Prenuptial Agreement to be considered valid, the Court will consider various factors that relate to the voluntariness, truthfulness of financial disclosures, and fairness of the agreement at the time it was entered into. The court will also consider whether both parties had the ability to seek and did in fact receive independent legal advice prior to execution of the Agreement.
Unfortunately, there is the potential for abuse of what the court has come to call the “confidential relationship” between two people contemplating marriage. Maryland courts have and will set aside prenuptial agreements on the basis of undue influence, duress, fraud and being unfairly disproportionate.
Just like a will, a pre-nuptial agreement is a valuable legal tool that, when properly drafted and entered into with full knowledge and assent, can provide powerful protection against the stress and uncertainties of divorce.