January 23, 2014

Child custody dictated by best interests of the child, not prenup

Engaged Michigan couples may think about drafting a prenuptial agreement before entering marriage so that they can protect their assets. Things can get a little complicated, though, if one of the parties has a child from a previous relationship. If the other parent is no longer involved in the child’s life, then the new stepparent may wish to consider legally adopting the child. This means that he or she would be considered the child’s parent. It also means that should the marriage end in divorce, the couple or family court would determine child custody and child support. Can these things be included in a prenup?

The answer is no, because all children must be treated equally when it comes to determining child support and custody. When courts decide on custody arrangements, they look to the best interests of the child, and sometimes, the child’s preference. Is there an emotional tie between parent and child? Does one parent spend more time with the child than the other? The courts use this information to decide how to award custody.

In terms of child support, this is calculated based on the incomes of both parents. The judge has to calculate this amount in order to be fair. This is something that can change from the time the prenup is created to the time the couple files for divorce, which is why child support limitations cannot be included in a prenup.

Prenups are great legal tools for keeping a spouse’s property or assets separate when entering into a marriage. However, when it comes to the best interests of a child, this legal agreement cannot be used to determine custody or support. If you have questions about such divorce-related topics, it’s best to seek answers from a legal professional.

Source: Boston Herald, “Prenup can’t dictate custody, child support” Gerald Nissenbaum, Jan. 19, 2014