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Here’s what a prenuptial agreement can (and cannot) do for you

A prenuptial agreement is a good way for people who are getting married to make sure their property is protected in case of a possible future divorce.

You and your future spouse can use a prenup to handle many aspects of divorce ahead of time, but it cannot do everything. There are some things that Maryland law forbids spouses from trying to include. For the sake of example, here are five things that you and your spouse can include — and four things you cannot.

Five things you can put into your prenuptial agreement

  • Stipulating which assets are marital property, which you and your spouse would have to divide in divorce, and which are separate property, which you or your ex would keep.
  • A plan for distributing the marital assets.
  • Language making it clear that a spouse’s debt will belong to them alone after divorce so that a debt collector will never pursue the other ex for payment.
  • Provisions keeping family property in the family, such as a family business or family heirlooms.

Four things not allowed in Maryland prenups

  • Provisions that a judge could see as encouraging divorce, such as by providing a financial incentive to end the marriage.
  • Provisions dealing with child support or child custody matters.
  • Personal matters, such as details about child-rearing or where the family will spend the holidays. Prenups are supposed to focus on financial issues.
  • Anything related to illegal acts.

Even if you never use it, a well-crafted prenuptial agreement can help you. Knowing that it is there gives you the assurance that you know what your financial position will be, no matter what happens with your marriage. Keep in mind that both you and your spouse-to-be should be represented by an attorney while negotiating the terms of the agreement.