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Glen Burnie Family Law Blog

Prenuptial agreements are becoming the new normal

For those who are planning to marry, an important aspect to consider before the upcoming nuptials is to have an open and honest conversation about money. While not as glamorous as planning a honeymoon retreat, it is imperative to discuss finances, existing debt and the prospect of a prenuptial agreement. More couples in Maryland and other states are entering into prenuptial agreements while planning for their future together.

Couples should have a casual conversation about financial history and what assets and debt each person will bring to the marriage. These talks can determine if couples will pool finances or keep things separate. Some choose to keep separate accounts and share expenses such as household bills like rent and utilities. Knowing up front how the other handles money opens the lines of communication and can bring couples closer together.

Maryland child custody rulings can be modified

If two Maryland parents battle it out in court over who should have full custody of their children, the court will hand down an ultimate ruling at some point. When this happens, both parents are bound to adhere to the terms of the ruling, although in some situations one or the other may decide to appeal. There are also situations where a parent may lose child custody, then file a new petition down the line to try to regain it.  

That's what Southern Charm reality TV star Kathryn Dennis is doing. The mother of two children reportedly failed a drug test in 2016. This prompted the court to remove her children from her custody.  

Child support in Maryland: Think far, far ahead

When cradling your newborn, you and your spouse are not likely to think about whether the baby will need braces or eyeglasses further along. Admittedly, dreaming about having children doesn't often focus on the costs of raising them well into adulthood. When divorce intervenes, a Maryland couple may find that child support and all its associated expenses will leap to the forefront and stay there.

The particular circumstances of each divorcing couple will present a wide range of scenarios, depending on the age and needs of the child at the time of divorce. Since children have that uncanny gift of growing like weeds, their needs will evolve and the related expenses will increase accordingly. Moreover, changes in parental lifestyles, incomes, as well as relocation, remarriage or unexpected health issues, will all affect both the payor and recipient of child support payments.

Unmarried with children: Child custody in Maryland

Many couples who choose not to formally marry often have the same goals as those who do marry, including having children. Similar to married couples, they may decide at any time to dissolve their relationship. When that happens, unmarried parents need to be aware of the differences in how Maryland family law addresses issues of child custody as well as visitation and support.

Laws differ from state to state. Generally, when the parents are unmarried, the natural mother is considered the primary caregiver and holds de facto custody. Even if the natural father lives in the same residence as the child, he will need to provide evidence of paternity. In cases where the father lives separately, the court also requires information about how much time he spends caring for the child, and how present he is in the child's daily life. If living elsewhere, the court will also look at whether the father's residence is set up to accommodate the child's needs.

Maryland prenuptial agreements: Never in the shadow of the altar

Some things in life just seem to develop a bad reputation. It's true that prenuptial agreements are associated with divorce. Suggesting them is not like deciding where to go on honeymoon or choosing the flower arrangements for the wedding reception. Having premarital conversations about money are usually brief, reticent and uncomfortable. Yet, Maryland family law attorneys can bear witness to the value of prenups -- not just as important divorce documents -- but as mainstays of well-launched marriages.

Couples would do well to engage in such discussions, as a matter of course, before tying the knot. After all, in single life, money is often a pre-eminent concern. Couples about to marry may find that drafting a prenuptial agreement is a liberating experience, dispelling many doubts or misgivings about embarking on a fully shared life. According to experts, holding fragmented, brief and incomplete talks about assets, debts, obligations and the like will likely lead to serious financial problems later on.

Review of prenuptial agreements needed due to tax change

A proposal for lifelong marriage can be exciting for a couple as they look forward to sharing their lives together. However, some individuals of great wealth will consider a prenuptial agreement prior to saying "I do." A prenup can help set the financial expectations in a marital relationship and can also protect one's assets in the event of a divorce.  Maryland couples who have current prenuptial agreements will need to review them in order to continue protecting their finances as the newly enacted federal tax laws will make changes to alimony in 2019.

Come Jan. 2019, couples seeking a divorce will find that the tax consequences regarding alimony payments have changed. The payee will no longer be able to deduct payments to an ex-spouse, and the receiver will no longer be required to pay taxes on the alimony received. After 75 years of allowing tax deductions on alimony payments, this change will likely affect current prenuptial agreements.

When to talk about prenuptial agreements with children of wealth

One of the largest contentions in a marriage is the handling of finances. However, some individuals must consider their finances before they tie the knot. Individuals of wealth, either self-made or inherited, should consider a prenuptial agreement prior to a marriage. Maryland families of great wealth strongly encourage prenuptial agreements to protect the family's assets as the money is passed down from generation to generation.

As children of affluence reach their late teens and twenties, many parents would have had conversations with them about the idea of a prenup in the event of a potential marriage. It has been advised for parents to begin the conversation early to avoid serious conflict with their child and their potential spouse. Establishing a commonality of a prenup between a parent and child before a potential spouse is introduced to the family will help avoid the portrayal of a negative view towards the child's fiance.  

Woman seeks hitman instead of seeking an alimony agreement

Facing a divorce can be intimidating, especially if one's financial future is uncertain after separation. Many Maryland couples seeking a divorce will consider the option of having the higher-earning spouse pay alimony to the spouse who may not have worked or did not make as much money. After a relationship dissolves, alimony can bring a sense of stability for the recipient. However, one woman in another state decided to take matters into her own hands, opting for murder-for-hire instead of working through a financial agreement.

The woman is accused of attempting to hire a hitman to kill her husband in order to avoid going through with a divorce. It is reported that the wife paid an undercover agent $400 and some jewelry as the initial payment for the murder. Once her husband was killed, she planned to sell her husband's pickup truck and pay the remaining $4,000.

Coming to a child custody agreement after infidelity

There can be many reasons someone might consider a divorce. One of the most common reasons is infidelity in a marriage. If the couple shares children, the betrayal may prove to make an amicable split more difficult as the scorned spouse will likely have lost trust in the other parent. Maryland couples heading for divorce after infidelity may be wondering if cheating affects child custody agreements.

Though cheating on a spouse carries a stigma, the court does not consider an unfaithful partner as a bad parent. As long as the spouse does not carry on the extramarital affair in front of the children or introduce them to inappropriate people, the court will likely not consider custody based on the affair. It's not the affair that will affect a child custody agreement, but how the relationships involved in the extramarital affair will affect the children that can play a factor.

Latest child custody trend featured in Hollywood sitcom

Maryland couples considering a separation are likely thinking about their living arrangements post-divorce. When children are involved, couples will strive to come to an agreement for the best living situation for their children. The latest child custody trend is getting Hollywood's attention as a new sitcom recently made its debut based on the idea of "bird nesting." The concept is getting attention as families are deciding to forgo the traditional arrangement of moving children between two homes. Instead, exes are choosing to share one home, taking turns caring for the children and the home.

Though unconventional, the idea has its positive aspects. It may prove to be financially beneficial as the home's value may increase over time or if it avoids breaking a lease too early. It also allows time for the couple to untangle their relationship and assets as their marriage ends. However, the most attractive benefit for most couples is that this method provides stability for their children as their family dynamic changes.