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Marital settlement agreements, prenuptial agreements and postnuptial agreements identify rights, obligations and agreements regarding assets, debts, property distribution and if applicable, support, child custody and visitation. A principal difference among these agreements is the timing of when they are made. A prenuptial agreement is entered into by a couple before they get married. A postnuptial agreement is executed after a couple gets married or has entered a civil union. Both agreements will typically include provisions for division of property and spousal support in the event of divorce, death of one of the spouses or breakup of the marriage or union.

A marital settlement agreement (MSA) is a written contract dividing a couple’s property, spelling out rights and settling issues such as alimony and custody. It may be drawn before or after a divorce. The requirements of an MSA differ among the various jurisdictions of Virginia, Maryland and D.C. Our team has extensive experience using prenuptial, postnuptial and marital settlement agreements to help make a divorce action, especially an uncontested divorce action, move more quickly and smoothly towards a resolution.

To speak with a Shulman Rogers attorney about Marital Settlement Agreements in Maryland, Virginia or Washington D.C., contact us.

Marital settlement, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements have become increasingly popular due to a number of factors including:

  • The average age of first marriage for women is 27.4 years and for men was 29.5 years. The age has risen every decade since 1960, when the average for men and women was around 20 years of age. (US Census Bureau 2017)
  • According to the American Psychological Association, between 40 to 50 percent of marriages in the United States will end in divorce. The rate among those who remarry is even higher. (USA Today Money 2/2/2018)
  • Nearly half of heterosexual women (48%) ages 15 to 44 said they were not married to their spouse or partner when they first started living with them. This 2006-2010 study showed an increase from 43% in 2002 and 24% in 1995. (Live Science, March 2013)

In short, more and more people are entering relationships with considerably more assets, debts, children and history than ever before.

So aren’t these agreements for wealthy people? Yes. And, they are for most other people as well.

When you have less, it is even more important to protect as much as you can – especially if some or most of the assets were amassed or the obligations were incurred prior to the marriage.

Complex Property Distribution Matters

Divorce can often involve complex property and debt distribution issues. This includes cases involving community or separate property interests in family businesses, privately held companies, partnerships, stock options and other executive compensation arrangements, professional practices, unique investment vehicles, collectibles, spousal support (alimony payments), and debt division.

Some of the most affluent cities and counties in the nation are located in the Metropolitan Washington region. The area is a magnet for college and post-college educated professionals and enjoys a significant number of dual-income households with both individuals earning six-figure incomes. To ensure the protection of our client’s assets, we use our deep experience with marital settlement, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements. We draw upon the experience of nearly 100 colleagues who are recognized for their experience in matters involving business ownership, ERISA, executive compensation, real estate, tax considerations and wills, trusts and estates.

To contact a Shulman Rogers attorney about issues related to Complex Property Distribution, contact us.


There are no statutes in Maryland specifically addressing prenuptial agreements. They are addressed in case law and are treated like business contracts: enforceable when they are in writing and signed by both parties, provided certain conditions are reasonably met, including financial disclosure, arms-length negotiation, absence from undue pressure and gross unfairness.

To consult with a member of our Family Law Team about a Premarital Agreement in Maryland, contact us.