Can a prenuptial agreement determine child custody?

This article looks at whether prenuptial agreements can address child custody and support issues.

More and more couples are opting for signing prenuptial agreements before they get married. While prenuptial agreements have many benefits and are generally enforceable, many newlyweds are often confused about what the scope of a prenuptial agreement can be. One question that often comes up regarding prenuptial agreements is whether or not they can touch on child custody or other issues related to childrearing. While prenuptial agreements cannot stipulate custody of children, they can include provisions pertaining to some child-related issues.

Prenuptial agreements and custody

The answer to whether or not prenuptial agreements can stipulate custody and visitation time of children is clear and simple: no, they cannot. The same applies to child support. While parents are encouraged to come up with a parenting plan on their own to decide how time and responsibilities with their children will be divided, ultimately it is for the court to decide custody, visitation, and support arrangements.

The court's only concern in determining these arrangements is what is in the best interests of the child. As CNBC reports, that means that whatever is written in a prenuptial agreement carries no weight in determining how parental responsibilities and custody time will be divided. As the New York Times notes, however, a prenuptial agreement can stipulate which spouse gets custody of the pets.

Children in prenuptial agreements

That being said, some child-related issues can be addressed in a prenuptial agreement. For example, if one spouse has children from a previous relationship then a prenuptial agreement can stipulate that a share of that spouse's assets is for those children and cannot be claimed by the new spouse in the event of a divorce.

Additionally, a prenuptial agreement is especially useful for those who currently work but who plan on taking a break in their careers in order to help raise any future children. The two spouses can agree that because one spouse is sacrificing her or his financial prospects for their children that in the event of a divorce that spouse deserves a bigger share of the overall estate. While not directly related to children per se, this issue highlights one way that childrearing can nonetheless have a big impact on how a prenuptial agreement is drafted.

Family law assistance

Family law issues are often complicated, but they can have a big impact on one's future. That is why these issues need to be taken seriously. Anybody who has a family law-related issue they need help with should get in touch with a family law attorney as soon as possible. An experienced attorney can guide clients through what options they have, including before, during, and after marriage or divorce.