Very few brides-to-be imagine themselves walking down the aisle with a face mask on, or only being able to dance with family members and friends six feet apart. In light of the current restrictions on travel and large gatherings implemented throughout the State of Maryland and across the globe as a result of the pandemic, many engaged couples are faced with the difficult decision of postponing their wedding and honeymoon plans. It must be incredibly difficult to even reschedule these plans, particularly when there is so much uncertainty as to what impact COVID 19 will have on travel and public gatherings in the future.
While there are many wedding details couples may not be able to control at the moment, now may be a good time to focus, or refocus, on some planning that is well within their control: a prenuptial agreement. In Maryland, prenuptial agreements are recognized as legally binding instruments. These agreements often address alimony, estate rights, and property rights in the event of divorce and/or death. In order for a prenuptial agreement to be valid, it must be fair and equitable in procurement and result; the parties must make frank, full and truthful disclosure of all assets; and the agreement must be entered into voluntarily, freely and with full knowledge of its meaning and effect.
Too often than not, engaged couples do not give themselves enough time to negotiate the terms of a prenuptial agreement. It is incredibly difficult for couples to contemplate the “what if” questions required by a prenuptial agreement, i.e., what if we get divorced or what if I die during the marriage, at the same time that the bride-to-be is getting the final fitting for her wedding dress and the groom-to-be is heading down south for his bachelor party. Ideally, the terms of a prenuptial agreement are negotiated and the document is signed well before the final stages of the wedding planning are taking place.
Generally speaking, I have found that prenuptial agreements are particularly helpful when: (1) one party comes from family wealth and wishes to protect an expected inheritance or an interest in a family business; (2) one or both parties acquired significant assets prior to the marriage, such as retirement and investment assets, real estate, and/or business interests and wishes to exclude or limit those assets in the event of divorce or death; and/or (3) the parties have children from previous relationships and seek to protect assets for the benefit of the children, particularly in the event of death.
I have negotiated the terms of prenuptial agreements for clients at all stages of life, young and old, those entering first marriages and subsequent ones, in various formats ranging from only one-on-one client meetings to the collaborative process. If your wedding plans have been put on hold due to the coronavirus and you find yourself considering, or reconsidering, whether to enter into a prenuptial agreement, email me (firstname.lastname@example.org) or give me a call at 410.659.1325 to set up an initial consultation.
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