When roughly 50% of marriages find their way to divorce court and a typical marriage is eight years long, prenuptial agreements are very common. Second and third marriages are even less likely to survive, statistically speaking. If you’ve been divorced before, you can appreciate the value of having a prenup for the same reason you have health insurance or a car alarm. Plenty of happy couples opt for both pre- or postnuptial agreements today.
In short, to get straight to the point, yes, you and your spouse can sign a “prenup” after you get married. At that point, it is not called a prenup; it’s called a postnup. Essentially, it is the same document, though. If you are already married and you do not have a signed, valid prenuptial agreement, you can still safeguard your assets with a postnuptial agreement. A postnup functions the same—it is a contract stating how a married couple will split their assets and liabilities in case of a divorce.
You have nothing to lose by reaching out to a prenuptial agreement attorney. Book a free consultation to learn how an agreement of this nature may pay for itself. Even if a dissolution does not appear to be looming, a postnuptial agreement could be a good investment if:
While your postnuptial agreement does not need to specify every detail of a divorce, it is ideal if your agreement addresses all the divorce-related issues. It is easier, cheaper, and less stressful to go through these issues when both parties are getting along and on good terms. Having said that, postnuptial agreements are valid and legal if they meet standard contract requirements. These “contract basics” include:
Furthermore, it is crucial to talk to an experienced Annapolis marital agreement attorney to be completely sure that the contract is acceptable under State of Maryland law. If the postnuptial contract contains, for example, unfair elements or illegal clauses, it can be challenged. This defeats the whole purpose of creating the document in the first place.
In divorce court, a judge might dismiss your postnup entirely if it does not meet the legal requirements set forth by the State of Maryland. Moreover, marital agreements can not waive child support, as noted above, but they can, however, arrange for alimony (or spousal support).
A postnuptial agreement can be executed any time after you say, “I do.” Many couples draw up a postnuptial agreement when they do their estate planning. Another common time we see people creating a postnup is when there is a significant change (moving, a death in the family, a child is born or adopted, etc.). From a legal perspective, a postnuptial agreement can be done after one day of marriage or after 50 years of marriage—it doesn’t matter.
Yes, technically, it is possible to write your own postnup without a lawyer. You might see generic postnuptial agreement form templates for sale online. If your situation is simple and straightforward, involving limited assets, and you executed the agreement correctly, something like this could be a solution for you. However, most couples are looking for a marital agreement because something highly valuable is at stake (an inheritance, their children from the first marriage, a business that has been in the family for four generations, etc.). It never hurts to get a free consultation from a knowledgeable Annapolis family lawyer before deciding.
There are three types of postnuptial agreements to be familiar with:
While the pros of a postnup are basically the same as a prenup, here are ways in which either of these marital contracts can protect you:
One resource points out that the process of meeting up with a lawyer to draft a marital agreement can get couples to talk about difficult subjects. People like marital mediators can draft a “private document” between spouses in which they informally agree to certain terms. While this avenue creates more of a plan than an action, it might be the right fit for some couples. Since financial stress is a huge cause of divorce, this option could help prevent a divorce if you feel your spouse is avoiding these tough topics.
Postnups were typically not considered valid or enforceable prior to 1970 in the US. Judges felt that postnups (even prenups) encouraged divorce, so they were viewed negatively. Considering the institution of marriage is as old as time, this makes postnups very new! Divorce became more common as women entered the workforce in the 1970s. At that time, states started initiating no-fault divorce laws. This opened the door for postnuptial agreements to be viewed in a different light.
The Law Office of Patrick Crawford would be happy to assist you with any and all family law issues in Maryland, from postnups to child support and custody. To discuss your situation with Mr. Crawford and find out if a pre- or postnuptial agreement is a right for you, call us at 410-694-7348 or use our online contact form.