Relationship Agreements Are For Everyone

Relationship Agreements Are For Everyone

At SIEGELLAW, we are ahead of the curve in Howard County and throughout the State of Maryland when it comes to recognizing the future needs of Maryland residents in the field of family law.

The dust has cleared from the recent Supreme Court ruling on same sex marriages. Like it or not, based on all of the complexities of unmarried relationships, whether they are opposite or same sex, you might need additional contractual protection.

Let’s start with some definitions.

A prenuptial agreement is used when you and your significant other are not yet married but contemplate getting married after signing your agreement.

A postnuptial agreement is between two legally married persons who want to further resolve issues during the marriage and if the marriage fails.

There is now a new breed of contract. I call it the Relationship Agreement, although others call it by many other names. This agreement is for two people who are in a relationship with each other but not legally married. It could be an opposite sex or same sex relationship.

So, what does it mean to be “legally married.” In Maryland, it has always been lawful for two opposite sex persons, of legal age, to marry, provided that neither one is presently married (that would be bigamy). Maryland now will also recognize same sex marriages.

But will the Federal government? Will others aside from the State of Maryland? What if you move to a state or country that does not recognize same sex marriages? What are the legal effects?

There still remains a great deal of uncertainty here, and that uncertainly could cost each of you tens of thousands-or even millions-of dollars, if you do not recognize what type of agreement you need to protect you.

Getting yourself to an advanced family law attorney for a long sit down education is the best way to understand your needs.

What are the types of issues you can resolve in a Relationship Agreement? There are many, but let me give you a few.

First, in Maryland, if you are not married to each other, you cannot get alimony from your significant other if the relationship fails. So, a Relationship Agreement might address the division of moneys between the two of you in the event the relationship fails. That does not mean you can contractually agree to alimony. That would be something called palimony, which Maryland does not allow. The structure of any distribution of wealth has to be carefully crafted to ensure it does not violate Maryland or Federal law.

Here is a more common situation. The two of you are in a relationship for many years, and one of you stays at home raising children while the other works and amasses a huge amount of retirement assets. If the two of you thereafter separate, never having been married, it could very well be the case that the retirement assets can never be re-distributed.

How about if the two of you agree to redistribute the retirement assets? If married and then divorced, that transfer might be non-taxable. However, if you two were never married, then it could be taxable. What do you do?

Get to an experienced family law attorney, that’s what!

These are merely some of the cutting edge issues affecting both same sex and opposite sex couples in today’s changing landscape of family law.

At SIEGELLAW, we remain committed to educating our clients and presenting them with all of the options so they can make educated decisions in their family law matters.


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