Before learning how a prenuptial agreement helps to protect children, it is important to understand the basics of what a prenuptial agreement is first. 

A prenuptial agreement, commonly known as a “prenup,” is a private contract between two individuals who are in the process of getting married, but have not been married yet. The contract is typically used to determine how property, assets, income, and a few other particular issues (depending on the circumstances), should be divided if the marriage dissolves. 

 A prenuptial agreement can also help a couple to plan out what will happen to any future or existing children, who are connected to the marriage, in the event of a divorce. 

How Does Having a Prenuptial Agreement Protect My Children?

The following are some examples of standard situations that demonstrate how entering into a prenuptial agreement can serve as a valuable protective measure for a couple’s children.  

Are There Any Children That Exist From a Prior Relationship?

If you are getting remarried, but have children from a previous relationship, then creating a prenuptial agreement can help guarantee that those children will inherit all, or at least a portion of your assets.

Many states, such as Alabama, have laws that prohibit a person from ignoring their spouse in a will. This means that your new spouse could potentially collect the assets that were originally meant to go to your children from a prior marriage. 

By simply having a prenuptial agreement that says otherwise, these state laws can be bypassed, effectively protecting your children and their rightful inheritance.

If This is My First Marriage and There are No Children Yet, Why Do I Need Prenuptial Agreement?

In general, a prenuptial agreement is a good thing to have, even if this is your first and only marriage. A prenuptial agreement acts like an insurance policy, much like health insurance: if for some reason the marriage fails, the contract can protect the assets of both spouses. You don’t plan on getting sick, but if you do then you have protection. 

Moreover, the prenuptial agreement can also provide protection for future children. If you and your spouse have no children yet, but are planning on having them together in the future, then the prenuptial agreement can contain clauses for those children, including:

  • How the children will be educated (e.g., public vs. private school);
  • What religion, if any, the children will be raised under; and
  • How much the couple intends to contribute to their children’s college funds.

Furthermore, prenups may also contain provisions that instruct how to manage family property, such as an heirloom or family business, that one or both of the spouses wish to keep within the family and plan on giving only to those future children.  

What Cannot Be Included in a Prenup That Concerns My Children?

Another major concern that couples consider when entering into a prenup is, in the event of a divorce, their former spouse may get remarried. Although a prenuptial agreement can protect some things that belong to children from the first marriage, like money and property, it cannot account for everything. 

Therefore, it is important to know what items cannot be included in a prenup because these details will impact the children from the first marriage. A prenup cannot include clauses regarding: 

Instead, these types of matters must be handled by a family court judge, made in the best interests of those children, and addressed in the court where the support or custody decision was made. 

Do I Need to Hire a Lawyer to Draft a Prenuptial Agreement?

Drafting a prenuptial agreement can be very challenging. While a couple is allowed to draft the initial terms of the contract on their own, the laws for prenuptial agreements vary by state.

Some states have specific requirements that must be met before the prenuptial agreement is considered valid, and many other states require an attorney to review the prenuptial agreement in order to finalize it. 

The last thing you want to face, after initiating a divorce, is a question of whether the prenuptial agreement is valid. This can be a lengthy process and add even more stress to something like a divorce proceeding. 

Why Should I Hire a Lawyer to Draft My Prenuptial Agreement?

Consulting with an experienced family lawyer can help you to decide on what provisions to include in your prenuptial agreement, and they can check to make certain that all state laws regarding the agreement are properly followed.

Additionally, a family lawyer can also provide guidance about what rights you have, work with you to protect your interests, and maintain a secure copy of the agreement on file, should you ever lose it and need access to it again in the future. 

Whether this is your first time getting married or you are getting remarried, having a prenuptial agreement is in your best interests. Contact a family lawyer today to protect your rights, as well as the rights of your current or future children.

As a precaution, those involved in the relationship should hire separate attorneys to draft and review the prenuptial agreement. This will help ensure that the interests of both parties are protected and that the final prenuptial agreement is fair.