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When should couples consider a prenuptial agreement?

It may seem unromantic to raise the issue of a prenuptial agreement before marriage. However, there are several scenarios where this approach may help couples enter into a marriage with greater ease of mind.

For example, an individual who was married before might have assets, obligations and/or children from the previous marriage. A prenuptial agreement can establish boundaries and ensure that assets are not commingled. An individual that owns an interest in a business may also want to separate his or her professional and personal life. A prenuptial agreement can accomplish that goal. 

Perhaps a prenuptial agreement is appropriate because a couple is coming from different life experiences or financial backgrounds. As an equitable distribution state, Maryland requires the division of marital property and debts in a divorce to be fair, rather than exactly equal. In addition, marital property is generally defined only as assets acquired during the course of the marriage, with the exception of gifts and inheritances from a third party. However, although assets owned separately before a marriage might not be marital property, any appreciation of those assets that occurred during the marriage might be. To avoid commingling, a prenuptial agreement can clearly define non-marital property. 

Yet even the best laid plans can be undermined by faulty procedures. In the context of a prenuptial agreement, a couple should consult with an attorney to ensure that their agreement is valid. Our law firm focuses on family law, and we have seen several common mistakes that can cause a court to throw out a premarital agreement. We recommend that both members of a couple have separate lawyers review their prenuptial agreement. It is also important to account for all assets to avoid the appearance of an incomplete or inaccurate agreement. Finally, the terms of the agreement shouldn't be blatantly unfair on their face. 

Related post: "Does Your Division of Marital Estate Assets Account for Taxes?" Bromberg Rosenthal LLC, May 16, 2015

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