Premarital Agreements in Maine
One way for couples who are thinking about marriage to protect their assets and to make sure that interests are taken care of in the even the marriage fails is to create a premarital agreement. A premarital agreement is also sometimes referred to as a prenuptial agreement or “pre-nup” and is a contract that couples make before they enter into a marriage that becomes effective upon commencement of the marriage. In Maine, the laws pertaining to premarital agreements are listed under the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act.
Premarital agreements are often a good idea. Not only do they protect an individual's rights to their property and assets, they make the divorce process easier in the event that the marriage is dissolved. Premarital agreements apply to man aspects of a marriage, but mainly affect a couple's property rights. Under Maine Revised Statues Title 19-A, section 602, the term property is defined as “an interest, present or future, legal or equitable, vested or contingent, in real or personal property, including income and earnings”. If you would like to know more about premarital agreements in Maine, contact a divorce attorney right away.
What Do Premarital Agreements Do?
In order for a premarital agreement to be valid, certain aspects must apply. First of all, it must be stated in writing and signed by both parties. Oral agreements do not count as premarital contracts. According to Maine law section 604, the following factors can be discussed in a premarital agreement:
Rights and obligations – Parties can list each individual's rights and obligations regarding any property owned by either party or acquired at any point during the marriage.
Property rights – This allows couples to designate any rights each party has “to buy, sell, use, transfer, exchange, abandon, lease, consume, expend, assign, create a security interest in, mortgage, encumber, dispose of or otherwise manage and control property”.
Property disposition – Couples may decide in a premarital agreement how any and all property will be divided should they separate, divorce or should one party die.
Spousal Support – Guidelines for spousal support can be listed in a premarital contract.
Wills – Each party can also make a will, trust or other arrangement to make sure terms of the premarital agreement are adhered to in the event of their death.
Life insurance – A premarital agreement can state who has the right to benefits from a life insurance policy should a party pass away.
Choice of law – Parties may decide what law they want to govern the construction of the agreement.
In addition to these, couples can also include other provisions regarding their personal rights and obligations as long as they are not in "violation of public policy or a law imposing a criminal penalty”. Couples are not allowed to add any provisions that would adversely affect a child's right to receive child support as well. This means that parents will always have certain responsibilities to care and support a child, even if the premarital agreement limits one party's obligations.
Premarital contracts must be completed and signed prior to entering a marriage, once a couple is married, they can no longer create a premarital agreement. Under Maine law, a premarital agreement is put into effect as soon as the couple is married. It can be revoked or changed however. In order to amend a premarital agreement after a couple has been married, a written agreement must be signed by both parties stating the amendments or the revocation.
Enforcing a Premarital Agreement in Maine
In most situations a premarital agreement in Maine that is agreed to by both parties will be enforceable without consideration. However, there are some circumstances where this may not be true. An agreement must be made voluntarily by both parties who have disclosed all information about their property. Under section 608 of The Uniform Premarital Agreement Act, an agreement may not be enforceable if one of the following can be proven in court:
- One party did not voluntarily agree to the contract
- When it was executed, the agreement was unconscionable and:
- One party was not informed of the true financial obligations or property ownership of the other party prior to the marriage
- One party did not "voluntarily and expressly waive, in writing" their rights of disclosure regarding property ownership or financial obligations to the other party
- One party did not or could not reasonably have had adequate knowledge of property ownership or financial obligations of the other prior to marriage
If one of these is found to be true, the court may revoke or override the premarital contract rendering it invalid. The court may also override a premarital agreement clause when it involves spousal support only if the contract modifies or eliminates spousal support to the point that the other party would then require public assistance. Additionally, when a marriage is declared void, so is the premarital agreement. Under section 609 a premarital agreement is only enforceable in the case of a voided marriage "to the extent necessary to avoid add an equitable result."
Premarital Agreement Assistance in Maine
Premarital agreement law can be confusing, but an experienced family law attorney can assist you. Whether you are interested in drafting a prenuptial agreement, modifying or revoking an agreement or if you are considering divorce and want to know more about how your existing agreement will affect your rights, WTB Law can help.
Our attorneys have the experience and knowledge you need. We understand what a difficult time a divorce can be and work to help resolve issues by finding compromises that work well for all parties. Call us now at 207-571-8146 to set up a consultation with a Portland divorce attorney.