Baltimore & Towson Lawyer Discusses Appealing Marital Settlement Agreements In Maryland
As just about any Baltimore and Towson divorce lawyer knows, it can be quite difficult to appeal or set aside a marital settlement agreement in the state of Maryland. That's because under the law, such agreements are presumed valid based on the fact that adults generally have the capacity to enter into valid contracts, and a marital settlement agreement is considered to be a "contract."
What is a Marital Settlement Agreement?
Marital settlement agreements, which are also referred to as property settlement agreements, are written contracts that specify the parting spouses' rights, divide property and settle issues related to child custody and alimony. Such agreements can be drafted either before or after a party has filed for divorce.
Individuals who do not have marital property, joint debts or children might not need a marital settlement agreement. However, separating couples who are interested in providing additional evidence to the court about the separation might consider having an agreement, as that will demonstrate the parties' understanding with respect to the ending of the marriage.
Appealing or Setting Aside the Agreement
Your Baltimore and Towson divorce lawyer can tell you that if a marital settlement agreement was entered into by way of duress, fraud, collusion or undue influence, it will not be enforceable. Moreover, if the agreement terms are such that they "shock the conscious" of the court, the court might refuse to enforce the agreement or it might choose to limit or eliminate the unconscionable terms of the document.
In order for a party to prove the unenforceability of the agreement due to fraud, he or she will need to show that the other spouse misrepresented a material fact or concealed information in an effort to persuade the other party to enter into the agreement. With respect to undue influence, coercion and duress, the complaining party must demonstrate that he or she was compelled by the other spouse to do things that he or she would not have ordinarily done.
If a party can persuade a court that due to one of the above-mentioned acts he or she could not exercise free will with respect to consenting to the agreement terms, that party may be able to have the agreement set aside. On the other hand, one party may seek to simply have the agreement modified, not necessarily set aside. Individuals should note that such agreements may be modified if the modification sought does not materially change a major term of the agreement (such as in the case of a correction or clarification).
Generally speaking, courts almost always approve marital settlement agreements if they are fair and the court is persuaded that the parties entered into the agreement of their own free will. In an effort to determine the document's fairness, the court might seek to review the parties' financial affidavits and other information.
If you are interested in having a marital settlement agreement drafted and you have questions, contact a Baltimore and Towson divorce lawyer at the Law Offices of Amar Weisman, LLC as soon as possible.
Call (410) 321-4994 For a Free Consultation
Call The Law Offices of Amar S. Weisman at (410) 321-4994 to schedule a Free Consultation. The Purpose of the consultation is to determine whether you want to retain this law firm as your Baltimore County & Harford County Family Lawyer. If you do wish to proceed, then you must pay a retainer. See Our Policy on Fees and Costs. The family firm is located next to The Circuit Court for Baltimore County, at 1018 Dulaney Valley Road, Towson, MD 21204.