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Child custody and support in prenuptial agreements

Any couple can usually find some benefit in a prenuptial agreement, excepting those who create faulty agreements based on poor understandings of the law. While prenuptial agreements offer potential spouses many important protections, these agreements acknowledge very strict limits to what they can and cannot govern during a divorce.

Prenuptial agreements are excellent tools to help a couple determine how they might address property division in the event of divorce, and may protect one spouse from the other's debt during the marriage or keep a business owned by one spouse out of a divorce altogether. However, these agreements very specifically do not apply to child custody and child support matters.

Courts understand that it is far too easy for one party with significant means to compel the other to sign away his or her parental rights when creating a prenuptial agreement, especially if the individuals in question do not have a child yet. Keeping custody issues out of prenuptial agreements allows courts to decide what is best for the child in question as well as consider both parents' rights and wishes during the divorce before approving a custody plan or issuing one.

Courts also acknowledge that child support is the right of the child, and is not subject to the preferences of a parent. The court retains the power to assess each parent's ability to provide for the child and issue child support terms accordingly.

Should you choose to incorporate child support or custody terms into your prenuptial agreement, you may weaken the entire document and threaten all of its protections. Be sure that you understand your legal rights and options before you create an agreement that truly reflects your relationship and its priorities.

Source: FindLaw, "What Can and Cannot be Included in Prenuptial Agreements," accessed Jan. 19, 2018

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