Over the past couple of decades, American attitudes towards prenuptial agreements have slowly changed. Previously they were thought of as unromantic and a signal of not being completely committed to a marriage. However, today most people understand that prenuptial agreements, also known simply as prenups, are a practical tool that can help manage their future if their relationship should end in divorce.
If you are walking down the aisle soon, you might wonder what is required to get a prenup or if you will need an attorney to create one. It’s crucial to ensure your prenup is drafted correctly; otherwise, it won’t be enforceable if and when you need it. But do you need to hire an attorney?
Do Prenups Require Attorneys?
In Maryland, prenups are treated as written contracts. They are between prospective spouses who mutually agree on how specific issues, such as property division and alimony, will be determined if their marriage ends in divorce. This type of contract is generally an exchange of certain financial terms for the act of marriage itself.
Under Maryland law, each spouse must have the opportunity to obtain their own legal representation. A single attorney cannot represent both spouses because it is unethical and can create a conflict of interest. However, neither party is required to obtain a lawyer to draft or sign a prenup. Instead, they simply must have had the opportunity to hire one.
Even though by law an attorney is required for a prenuptial agreement, the “gold standard” for ensuring an agreement is enforceable is to have an attorney prepare it and have a professional accountant generate certified personal financial statements for each spouse and attach them to the agreement before each party signs it.
In short, even though you aren’t required to have legal counsel to draft and sign a prenup, it’s in your best interest to do so if you want your prenup to be enforceable in court.
Maryland Requirements for Prenuptial Agreements
Like most states, Maryland has requirements for prenuptial agreements. They must be written and signed by each future spouse. Both spouses need to make a complete financial disclosure. In general, anyone executing a prenup agreement needs to do everything possible to avoid the appearance that one party signed the agreement under duress. For example, having different attorneys represent each party and having the prenuptial agreement negotiated and signed long before the wedding date is helpful.
What Is Included in a Prenup?
Prenuptial agreements in Maryland can include things like property rights, personal rights, and alimony. Spouses to-be can also agree to financial rights and obligations that exist when they marry and into the future.
Prenuptial agreements can include:
- Asset and debt division in divorce
- The ability to sell, buy, or otherwise control property in the marriage
- If one spouse will pay the other alimony after a separation or divorce
- The amount and duration of that alimony
- Whether retirement accounts are divided or kept separate
- Distribution of the proceeds of any life insurance policies
- If the parties should draft wills to carry out the terms of the agreement
Questions About Prenups? Contact an Experienced Prenup Attorney
If you have questions about drafting or executing a prenup or want to ensure that yours will be enforceable if you should ever need to rely on it, contact an experienced attorney today.