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Prenuptial agreement: How to include a special needs child

When cohabitation moves toward an engagement to marry, partners with significant assets may decide they want a prenuptial agreement. The partners are aware of their separate and joint assets.  

There is one consideration that makes this high-asset couple different: They are parents of a special needs child. They want to include provisions for how to consider her welfare should they ever face marital dissolution. These specific prenuptial conditions could act as waivers if the couple sets up an estate plan. 

Tip #1: Set up a care plan

Marital dissolution can involve co-parenting specifications. A special needs child will often require a degree of physical care tailored to her disability. If one spouse travels extensively for work, that person may wish to contribute an equivalent financial percentage to cover skilled nursing care during an absence. Other aspects of a child's care plan can address who will pay for enrichment programs such as equine therapy, physical therapy or other types of beneficial activities. There may be additional medical care needs for the child, such as medication, equipment or home structure modifications. 

Tip #2: Prepare for long-term care needs 

Special needs children may be dependent on their parents or caregivers for life. Spouses may want to formalize their expectations for future care. These directions can include how partners would wish to handle their child's financial and medical needs if one parent survives the other, or one parent becomes emotionally or physically incapable of managing the child's long-term care needs.

Tip #3: Consider including mediation

A couple with a special needs child will have unique decisions to make that go beyond the usual prenuptial material. The couple could agree to a period of mediation as either a prelude to or a set-in-stone alternative to divorce court. They may wish to rule out a specific type of dissolution entirely; however, if they bind their prenuptial agreement to include the advantages of mediation, they will possibly have more incentive to collaborate amicably. They may want to make important decisions about the best ways to support their child through divorce and beyond. Mediation could give the couple extra time to consider and work out unforeseen issues that develop throughout their marriage.

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Weinberg, Kaplan & Smith, P.A.
8000 Sagemore Drive, Suite 8301
Marlton, NJ 08053

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Phone: 856-375-1586
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