Maryland Prenuptial Agreement

Congratulations on your engagement in historic Maryland! If you are considering entering into a prenuptial agreement (AKA premarital agreement) in this beautiful state, there are certain requirements you should meet for that agreement to be deemed valid.

Prenups in Maryland 

Prenuptial agreements can help set expectations for a couple getting married. Nobody likes talking about finances- it’s just not romantic! But, did you know that couples who discuss money tend to have longer marriages? While you don’t have to visit a divorce attorney to draft a prenup, Prenuptial Agreements must be in writing, signed by both parties, and notarized in order to be legally valid in Maryland. Read on for the details!

Maryland does not have a specific statute that governs prenuptial agreements, and instead, prenup requirements are governed by contract law.

A little background

A 2013 case called Stewart v. Stewart describes how prenups are considered and upheld in Maryland. In Stewart v. Stewart, the court upheld a prenuptial agreement where the wife, Barbara, had waived rights in her husband, James’ premarital, separate assets, and only had a few days before the wedding to consult a lawyer. In this case, the Stewarts entered into marriage with very different net worth- James had about $2 million in assets at the time of marriage, and his future bride Barbara had no significant assets. About four days before the wedding, James presented Barbara with a prenuptial agreement, drafted by his attorney, and Barbara signed it without legal advice or representation.

The prenup agreement contained language that required each person to waive any interest in the other’s separate property and in the other’s estate at death. When the couple divorced, Barbara challenged the prenup’s enforceability in a Maryland court, and argued that there was inadequate disclosure of James’ assets at the time of signing. The court stated that although prenuptial agreements are contracts, they concern a confidential relationship and therefore they may not be “overreaching.” The court further reasoned that the circumstances around Barbara signing the agreement were procedurally fair, because she had signed “freely and understandingly,” and the agreement disclosed the substantial assets. The Stewart case explains in detail the important legal standards that Maryland courts will consider in enforcing a premarital agreement. Read the case here.  

Maryland Prenup and Divorce Terminology

Official name for a prenup: Premarital Agreement

Property that is not marital: Non-Marital Property

Property that is of the marriage: Marital Property

Spousal Support: Alimony

Terminology for Divorce: Divorce

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