Here in Maryland, a prenuptial agreement can be a very beneficial thing for both you and your future spouse. Some people consider a prenuptial agreement to be the cynical ploy of someone who’s already planning a divorce before the wedding has even occurred, but that is rarely the reality. A well-written and fairly negotiated prenuptial agreement can give you confidence that you and your spouse will be in control, rather than a court, if the marriage eventually ends. Making sure that both you and your spouse are working with knowledgeable Maryland prenuptial agreement lawyers can go a long way in ensuring you get something that is fair, mutually agreeable, and largely safe from a subsequent legal attack.
Prenuptial agreements have been in the news a lot lately. In December, music mogul Dr. Dre finalized his divorce. During that litigation, the hip-hop icon sought to enforce a prenuptial agreement. The wife strongly opposed, arguing that she signed the agreement under duress.
Four months earlier, another celebrity prenuptial agreement dispute came to a close. Singer and talk-show host Kelly Clarkson successfully argued for the enforcement of the prenuptial agreement that she and her husband signed. News reports generally did not indicate why the husband thought the prenup was invalid.
How Do I Make Sure My Prenup Will Survive a Legal Challenge?
Those two cases were in the California courts. Here in Maryland, a judge can throw out or modify a prenuptial agreement if the court finds that there was fraud, mistake, duress, coercion, undue influence, or if the agreement’s terms were unconscionable.
That means there are many vital steps to ensure your prenuptial agreement’s future viability. One essential thing that both you and your spouse must do is be honest and forthcoming when it comes to financial issues. Thorough and accurate financial disclosures can help ensure that the decisions each of you make are knowing and intelligent ones, and will greatly reduce the risks of your spouse successfully advancing an argument of fraud or mistake.
An incomplete disclosure can lead to modification or invalidation of the agreement if it placed the other spouse in a position such there was “unfairness or inequity in the result of the agreement or in its procurement.”
Also, it helps if you and your spouse each have legal representation before signing the agreement. (Additionally, your attorney and your spouse’s attorney ideally should be different lawyers.) Having a truly independent legal advocate on each person’s side will help guard against a process that is too rushed, or an agreement whose terms are too one-sided. That greatly reduces the possibility of the agreement being tainted by coercion or unconscionability.
Speaking of rushing, timing and deadlines also are important things to keep in mind, especially as they relate to duress. For example, say your spouse suddenly presents you with a prenuptial agreement 48 hours before your wedding dress shopping appointment and offers you the name and phone number of a lawyer you’ve never met. Let’s say your spouse also tells you that the dress shopping and the wedding itself are contingent on your signing in the next 48 hours. In that kind of circumstance, you could have very strong prospects for attacking that prenuptial agreement. A scenario like the one depicted above very possibly amounts to impermissible coercion, meaning you signed under duress and the agreement is unenforceable.
Whether you are the spouse proposing a prenuptial agreement or you are the one to whom such a document has been presented, the one thing you definitely need is knowledgeable and reliable legal counsel. Look to the experienced Maryland family law attorneys at Anthony A. Fatemi, LLC to be the strong and thoughtful advocate you need. Contact us today at 301-519-2801 or via our online form to set up your consultation.