So-called “blended” families with parents who have children from previous relationships can encounter unique challenges – some of them legal in nature.
If you and your prospective spouse intend to create a blended family unit, there are several potential issues you should consider in advance of your union in order to protect everyone’s interests.
Child custody disputes
When kids are involved and a new partner enters the picture, it can create tensions and conflicts with the children’s other parent. Custody agreements may need to be renegotiated or revised through the courts to accommodate the new family structure and protect the children’s best interests.
When a blended family is begun, it’s time to update estate planning documents such as wills, trusts and powers of attorney. This ensures that assets are distributed according to the wishes of the new family unit and that a surviving spouse and children are financially protected in the event of the other spouse’s death or incapacity.
Alimony or support issues
If one partner has children from a previous relationship, they may be required to pay child support to their children’s other parent. Alimony to a former spouse may also be an issue. Understanding the obligations involved (and what changes can and cannot be made) can help blended families better plan for their financial futures.
Prenups aren’t uncommon these days, and they’re not just for the ultra-wealthy. Prenups can create a sense of security around “what if” scenarios, including what would happen if the blended family fractures. They can also be used to carve out each spouse’s separate property. This could also be particularly important to couples where one or both parties have already gone through a divorce and don’t want so much uncertainty hanging over their heads.
Navigating legal issues in a blended family can be complex, not to mention emotional, but with proper legal guidance and support, it is possible to find solutions that work for everyone involved.