Post-Nuptial Agreements are used by spouses to change their legal rights and responsibilities from either the terms of a Pre-Nuptial Agreement they already have or to modify the rights and responsibilities that they have under the law even without a Pre-Nuptial Agreement.
Divorces often result from a bad act by one spouse, such as committing adultery. Until recently, spouses could not enter into a Post-Nuptial Agreement in which the “guilty” spouse would give up some legal or financial benefit and, in return, the aggrieved spouse would not divorce the wrongdoer. In other words, one spouse couldn’t benefit financially (i.e., be “paid off”) in return for staying married.
However, the Maryland Court of Special Appeals just decided that a Post-Nuptial Agreement is valid even if it provides a financial incentive for one spouse not to divorce the other. In this case, a husband committed adultery and the wife found out about it. The husband and wife then entered into a Post-Nuptial Agreement in which the husband agreed to pay his wife $7 million if he committed adultery again. In return, she agreed not to use the first incident of infidelity to divorce him. Later, the husband was unfaithful again, and the wife both sued him for divorce and to recover the $7 million under the agreement. The husband tried to avoid the payment, but the court upheld the provision requiring him to pay.
If you have questions about this or other family law issues, please contact Ferrier Stillman. The firm has offices in Baltimore and in Towson.
This has been prepared by Tydings for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice.