Is a Postnuptial Agreement the Right Choice for Parents?

When most people think about postnuptial agreements, they only consider how they affect the married couple. However, a strong postnup can also affect a couple’s children and stepchildren. In fact, some parents decide to get a postnup specifically to help protect their kids. Here’s how these contracts work, how they can help parents prepare for their kids’ futures, and a few of the best ways to use them.

What Are Postnuptial Agreements?

A postnuptial contract is closely related to a prenuptial agreement. Where a prenup is a contract a couple enters into before they get married, a postnup is signed after the marriage. Both kinds of contracts allow a couple to prepare for potential future legal or financial disputes in advance.

That’s the entire point of a postnup. A couple may choose to sign a postnup for many reasons, but common ones include infidelity, the founding of a business, or the birth of a child. These events trigger the couple to think about possible disagreements they may have down the road. Wise spouses often choose to implement legal contracts that will resolve these disagreements before they get out of control.

Postnups can cover a wide variety of topics. The most common issues are asset division and spousal support if a couple should divorce. However, a postnup can cover almost any financial or civil concern, with a few exceptions.

How Postnuptial Agreements Can Affect Your Children

Legally, postnuptial contracts only bind the spouses who signed them. However, any agreement that affects a child’s parents can also impact that kid’s life. Postnups are no different. For instance, a postnup can change elements of a kid’s life like:

There are two ways that a postnup can’t affect a child in California. You cannot use these contracts to specify anything about child support or sole custody. Child support is always determined by following California’s strict calculation. Meanwhile, custody is either automatically shared between parents or determined by the courts.

How to Use Postnuptial Agreements to Protect Your Kids

Since a postnuptial agreement can affect your children, it’s also possible to use it to help them. You can use these contracts to make sure your kids are well-cared-for no matter what happens within your marriage.

Specify College Funds

The primary purpose of a postnup is to prevent legal and financial disputes before they happen. A major potential conflict between divorced or separated parents is how to pay for a child’s college education. If you’re trying to protect your child, one of the most important things you can do with this contract is strictly specify who should pay for college and how those funds should be handled.

For example, you can use these agreements to outline that each parent is responsible for half of each child’s college expenses or that they will cover a certain amount. You can also use your postnup to name the savings accounts and clarify that neither of you will use that account for anything other than your kids’ college funds.

Protect Inheritances

Postnuptial agreements can also help you organize your estate plans. In particular, a postnup can be an essential document for protecting your children’s inheritances. If you want your kids to receive something specific, these contracts can ensure that they will still receive their intended objects or funds no matter what happens in your marriage.

It’s a simple process. All you need to do is name specific assets in the postnuptial agreement and state that it becomes your child’s property upon your death. The postnup acts as insurance for your will and testament, demonstrating that your spouse has consented to this arrangement.

Clarify Child Raising Expectations

Postnuptial contracts can also affect other kinds of behavior within a marriage. For instance, a couple can use the agreement to outline how children will be raised.

This is different from child custody or support. Postnups can include “lifestyle” clauses that explain how the couple will behave during their marriage. They also attach financial penalties for violating those clauses. Parents can use postnups to outline issues like whether children will be raised religiously. If either parent violates those clauses, they can face financial penalties like waiving their right to spousal support in a divorce.

Organize Property Division

Finally, while it’s not possible to use your postnup to determine custody in advance, you can use it to set conditions on property division. For instance, in many cases, one parent will have primary physical custody of the kids during the school year. The postnup can clarify that the family home will go to whichever parent has that custody.

This kind of property division can be invaluable. It ensures that your kids will have the most stable transition possible, preventing them from having to move or change their routines too much. It can also make it easier for the custodial parent to give them the best life they can.

Sign a Postnup to Protect Your Kids

The right postnuptial agreement can completely change your kids’ lives. Whether you want to protect their college funds or make sure they can stay in the family home no matter what, a postnuptial contract can help. You and your spouse can use these contracts to ensure your kids are financially protected, above and beyond the state’s requirements.

If you want to learn more about how to use a postnup to help your children, get in touch with an expert postnuptial agreement lawyer. The qualified team at Kaspar & Lugay, LLP, is prepared to help you write and finalize a postnup that will protect everything and everyone you hold dear. Get started today by scheduling your Discreet Consultation.

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Kaspar & Lugay, LLP is a family law firm with offices in Corte Madera, CA; Napa, CA; Walnut Creek, CA; and San Diego, CA. We also represent clients in San Francisco, Oakland, Sacramento, Pismo Beach, Contra Costa County, and Los Angeles.