If two people who have children from a previous relationship meet and get married, their family becomes what is known as a blended family. Blended families are common these days, but they do represent unique legal considerations for the spouses, particularly if the union ends in divorce.
For example, custody and support rules are different when both spouses are not the biological parents of the minor children unless the stepparent legally adopted the children. Confusion about obligations and responsibilities when a blended couple chooses divorce can cause major legal headaches for the whole family.
If you’ve already been through the heartache of divorce once, you know how messy it can become. Creating a prenuptial agreement when you intend to blend your family with someone else is a smart way to protect your children from instability. A prenuptial agreement outlines your expectations for your marriage and the process of divorce, potentially leading to a faster end to the marriage.
You can outline special obligations in a prenuptial agreement
It can be difficult to know what to include in a prenuptial agreement. Sometimes, the courts will throw out a prenuptial agreement because it includes illegal clauses, forcing a couple to litigate their divorce. For example, because child support is an obligation to the children, not to your ex-spouse, it is not possible for either spouse to waive the support obligations in prenuptial or postnuptial documents. If you attempt to do so, the courts may invalidate the whole prenup.
While it is not possible to avoid your legal responsibilities using a prenuptial agreement, it is possible to expand those legal obligations in a prenuptial agreement. You and your spouse may agree that the higher-earning spouse will pay child support even for non-related children if you separate or divorce. You could outline rules for education and even discuss how to pay for college in the prenuptial agreement.
You can also put certain rules in place regarding behavior in front of the children or even legally protect someone’s rights to visitation despite their lack of a direct biological or legal relationship with a child.
Prenuptial agreements help protect your financial stability as well
Divorce often proves to be financially devastating, particularly if the process involves fighting over every asset in court. By creating a prenuptial agreement before you get married, you and your spouse can protect your children from the conflict that arises in a contested divorce.
You can also save yourselves thousands of dollars by avoiding a drawn-out court process by filing for an uncontested, straightforward divorce. A divorce guided by a valid prenuptial agreement will have fewer unpredictable aspects.