Prenuptial agreement helpful in some cases


Q: I'm getting married later this year. I am currently a single man who owns my own house. My new wife will move in with me after our marriage. Do you think I need a prenuptial agreement to protect me in case we eventually get divorced?

Name withheld by request

A: A typical prenuptial agreement (known in Maryland as an Ante-Nuptial Agreement) usually details how assets will be divided in the event of a divorce, separation or sometimes even the death of a spouse.

Often prenuptial agreements are used by individuals who are marrying someone with much less money or much more debt, or by people with children from a previous marriage for whom they must care for or support.

Other candidates for a prenuptial agreement include people involved in a family business wishing to prevent a messy divorce from disturbing a business started by parents or grandparents, or threatening the livelihood of other relatives.

If you do not fit into one of these situations, then you probably don't need a prenuptial agreement.

Maryland's Marital Property Act, which vests rights to occupy the family house for a certain period to a spouse, should also be considered when contemplating a prenuptial agreement. The act says the spouse who is the guardian of the children has a right to live in the house for a certain period.

Maryland is not a community property state -- in which all property owned by one spouse is owned by the other.

While not the most romantic thing to consider before a wedding, there often are many practical reasons to look at a prenuptial


Q: Where can I get information and forms for the seller disclosure law?

Dean Bouland, Columbia

A: The seller disclosure law requires that all sellers give buyers either a disclosure, listing the condition of various parts of the house, or a disclaimer, saying the property is being sold "as is."

More information and the needed forms can be obtained from the Real Estate Commission, 501 St. Paul St., Baltimore, 21202. (410) 333-6230.

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