Congrats! Your family is growing. You’re expecting (again!) Except this time, you’re adding an adult human to the mix.
You’re elated. You’ve always wanted a partner to go through parenthood with and you are super excited to bring on an equal that will help raise your little ones and complete the pack you’ve worked so hard to build.
Now all of the weight of the family just seems like it’s going to be centered and you can rest assured now that you have some serious adult support, and that, my friend, is incredible.
You’re optimistic and excited about the future, but you’re also trying to be real with yourself and think about some logistics amongst this incredible time.
How are my little ones going to react now that I’m engaged?
How are my kids going to feel now that I’m adding another adult into their lives?
Is this marriage going to affect their future in a financial way even though this partner is not their birth parent?
For some of us, we’re not phased by the emotional aspect of this as our kids have accepted this new adult addition to the family and are overjoyed to see mom/dad so happy and get another loving parent that will be there for them for the end of time.
For the rest of us, maybe this is really traumatic? Perhaps earth-shaking for our little family.
What does this mean for my kids’ future?
What do I need to know before entering into a contract with someone and the output for my kids?
Based on the title of this article, you’re probably also considering:
Are you and your partner planning to add more kids to the mix in the future?
Are you and your partner going to declare taxes with dependents together? Or are taxes separate?
Is your partner planning to adopt your kids if their biological parent isn’t in the picture?
What’s going to happen to the assets from your partner in the event of divorce?
Will your kids be beneficiaries to their assets?
You’re smart. Incredibly smart, actually – to be thinking about these cases.
Yes – marriage is between you and your fiancé, but it’s crucial to not just think about yourself and this marriage. This marriage is for all of you in this new pack.
We are assuming that at this point, you’re super interested in knowing: what do I need to include in my prenup to protect my kids and their future, regardless of what happens to me and my future spouse?
Here are a few helpful points to know to help protect your kids in the event of divorce, and your marriage.
Alimony is there to protect you if you aren’t the breadwinner
Kids are forever. Regardless of all other outcomes in life, your kids will always be your kids. No matter what happens in this marriage, you will be responsible for your kids and with that comes major financial (and emotional) responsibility.
Though this isn’t groundbreaking news, recognizes this obvious realities are a way to be super honest with ourselves and remember that above this marriage, your kids will need – guidance, support, unconditional love, and you guessed it – money.
Prenups cannot protect your kids directly, because a prenup cannot be used to contract away the rights of children, by way of child support or custody. They are solely present to detail out the financial protections you and your fiancé choose to put in place, and how your will dissolve in the event of death or divorce. Let us reiterate: a prenup can protect you financially (the parent) in the event that you and your partner decide to call it quits and raise your kids under two roofs.
According to Investopedia.com, “alimony refers to court-ordered payments awarded to a spouse or former spouse within a separation or divorce agreement. The reason behind it is to provide financial support to the spouse who makes a lower income, or in some cases, no income at all.”
Why does this matter for kids if kids can’t be included in a prenup?
Well, in a round about way, alimony helps ensure your financial future, if you are the one who earns a lesser salary, or who plans not to work at some point. If this is the case, alimony helps you continue to provide your children with the same (or close to) standard of living that they had prior to the marriage dissolving. Won’t child support take care of all of this?
Child support is calculated separately based on state guidelines, or can be determined by the court in the event of divorce (not in a prenup). How much moolah you can count on due to the child support guidelines of your state can vary greatly based on income, expenses, etc., and isn’t guaranteed to be enough to support you without you having to work. This can be especially hard for parents who have exited the workforce, reduced their earning potential by working part time, or who have higher expenses than child support calculates for.
Ok, so what if you are the breadwinner, and you don’t think alimony is applicable because both you and your fiancé have career and plan to keep working throughout your marriage? Well, depending on your income, this is something important to discuss. Do you both plan to keep working? Is your income around the same right now? If so, would you considering waiving your rights to alimony? If not, are there alternatives to alimony (like lump sum payments) that would suffice?
Clearly state your alimony clause in your prenup. Decide how this will pan out for you if you two decide to co-parent instead. You’ll be relieved to have one less thing to negotiate further.
Add a Sunset Clause for peace of mind
Perhaps your fiancé has asked for this prenup, and you’re not entirely on board with this whole thing (even though you know there’s something that you should do since your kids are entering this marriage too – good for you!) So let’s talk about the olive branch that can be used to get you to perhaps say “ok, fine.” On the flip side, if you are the partner who is pushing for a prenup, a sunset clause can be a great way to even the playing field by ensuring your partner feels comfortable before starting negotiations.
Sunset clauses, or an expiration date for prenups, are ideal for less wealthier spouses entering a marriage who are totally shook by this whole prenup idea to begin with. A sunset clause clearly states when the prenup will expire so that all terms and conditions stated within the document are no longer applicable and any divorce will proceed as though a prenup never existed.
For single parents, this means that you can rest assured after [insert designated amount of time that you and your partner decided on here] that you don’t have to worry about the prenup anymore and you two can consider yourselves equally represented (regardless of who had what assets, debt, incomes, etc. entering the marriage). You are now considered prenup free in the eyes of the law and you can sleep soundly knowing that what’s yours is mine and vice versa.
So, if you’re not totally onboard with the idea of a prenup, don’t stress. A sunset clause can be entered in your prenup so you can come to a compromise and address your concerns about the harrowing prenup lingering over your head for too long, and your partner can feel good about being protected for “x” amount of time. Compromise is key in a marriage. This is just one more to consider.
Primary residence clause
Okay, here’s one that most people don’t really know exists, but absolutely should. Let’s say that you and your partner have called it quits. But you’re living together. What’s going to happen to your primary residence if you two decide to part ways? Arguably more important, what about your kids?
Do you and the kids pack up and leave? Or does one partner leave?
How long do you have to pack up your stuff and find a new place?
Do you rent or own?
If you rent, how will you decide who gets to keep the rental before letting your landlord know?
Deposits? << You get it. It’s a lot.
We know. This is a shitty thing to think about. You have built a family in this home and there are lots of good memories held within those walls. But, time and time again we see the fault of marriages not working out and someone has to leave the primary residence and start anew.
Again, prenups are about the two of you (not your kids), so deciding on who gets to stay in the house for x period of time based on what makes sense for you and the kids is extremely important. What you can decide within a primary residence clause is who will leave the residence, under what amount of time does that person have to pack up and leave, and any other details necessary to ensure a seamless transition into two roofs. This is obvious, but think about the big step your kids will have to take if they are now leaving their primary residence for a new one, only to visit the “old” home on weekends (or ever?)
Map it out. Write it down. Who will leave, who gets to stay, and for how long. Don’t leave a fight for yourselves to deal with later. Keep it cool and just write it down so you two won’t even have to discuss it again (amongst all the other things you’ll have to discuss if a divorce is newly in your future).
Customization is key – make your prenup yours
Above we stated three different clauses that make sense for single parents writing their prenup. But the best news of all? There are so many more clauses that can be incorporated to make your prenup truly perfect for YOU, indirectly your kids, and your partner.
The above clauses are popularized among single parents, but there are many more clauses that are crucial – such as health care clauses (who will pay health care if you two split?), dog clauses (who gets to keep Old Yeller?), lump sum payments (if you don’t split finances, does the wealthier spouse give money to the less wealthier spouse to compensate for childcare duties, quitting job, etc?). Check out our clauses here for a list of all the different clauses you can incorporate to make sure that you are fully protected no matter the event.
Need help getting started? Send us a note at [email protected], or visit our blogs and FAQs for even more information. Congrats on your growing family and we look forward to helping you map your future together.
XO, HP ????
Julia Rodgers is HelloPrenup’s CEO and Co-Founder. She is a Massachusetts family law attorney and true believer in the value of prenuptial agreements. HelloPrenup was created with the goal of automating the prenup process, making it more collaborative, time efficient and cost effective. Julia believes that a healthy marriage is one in which couples can openly communicate about finances and life goals. You can read more about us here Questions? Reach out to Julia directly at [email protected].