The time following the end of your marriage is very difficult. It is common to feel overwhelmed with emotions like anger, betrayal, fear, hurt, and confusion. The trauma can put you in a less than ideal state of mind when it comes time to sign a marital settlement agreement. This is one of the major reasons why you need the skills and experience of a family law attorney. While your attorney attends to the details of the legal issues, you are given time and space to begin the healing process.
If you have not taken this advice and have already signed an unfavorable marital settlement agreement without consulting an attorney, you may still have some options. Depending on how “unconscionable” your marital settlement agreement was, you have the opportunity to have it declared invalid according to Maryland law.
Jonah and Michelle were married for seven years before they separated in 2014. Some days after they parted ways, Jonah handed Michelle a proposed marital settlement agreement, which Jonah’s lawyers had drawn up. The agreement detailed that Jonah would get the marital home, the cars, the rental properties, and the retirement accounts, while Michelle would get a one-time payment of $8,500. It also added that Michelle would waive the right to seek both rehabilitative or permanent alimony. Michelle should have consulted an attorney first. Instead, she went on and signed it. Jonah then filed for a divorce and sought to have the agreement enforced. Michelle claimed that the agreement was invalid. She also demanded that Jonah disclose the value of several marital assets, with the appeals court supporting Michelle’s claim over the right for such information.
A couple of ways to prove that an agreement is unconscionable in Maryland
Michelle argued that the marital settlement agreement should be declared invalid because it was unconscionable. An agreement is either procedurally unconscionable or substantively unconscionable. The former pertains to the procedures or steps taken to create the contract, while the latter refers to a contract being extremely one-sided that it results in the entitlement of the aggrieved or disadvantaged party to measures of relief.
However, just because a contract is one-sided, it is not enough to have it invalidated. It should be that the disparity is so large that Maryland law will consider or view it as unfair. The way to determine if the agreement was unreasonable is to know the value of the assets assigned to Jonah and Michelle. Michelle, in this case, was entitled to a disclosure of the exact value of the assets.
If you think you got treated unfairly with the terms of the marital settlement agreement, you can use the disparity between assets assigned to you and your spouse. If the disparity turns out to be unconscionable, you just may have the privilege to have the agreement invalidated.
Do not give in to the pressure from your spouse to have a marital settlement agreement signed without first consulting your own lawyer. For solid advice and to protect your rights and interests, please consult an experienced Maryland family law attorney.