Prenuptial agreements, often called “prenups” for short, have long been the butt of jokes and fodder for news stories on popular celebrities and superstars. While many people’s understanding of prenuptial agreements have be forged by the misconception that they unromantic gestures or legal tools utilized by own the very wealthy, the truth is that more Americans than ever before are viewing prenups as a practical and effective means to proactively protect their rights in the event of a divorce.
America’s shifting trend when it comes to prenuptial agreements was recently profiled in a survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, which asked family law attorneys across the country about what they’ve encountered in their day-to-day practice. The results say a lot about people’s new take on prenuptial agreements. For example:
- More than 60% of lawyers who responded to the survey reported a significant increase in their practice’s work involving prenuptial agreements during the past 3 years.
- Almost half of the lawyers reported an increase prenuptial requests initiated by women, rather than men.
- Some attorneys reported a five-fold increase in prenuptial agreement work over the past 20 years.
- Prenuptial agreements have gained popularity among millennials, as well as older Americans who have previously been divorced when entering a new marriage.
The study’s findings say a lot about the fact that prenuptial agreements may not have the same reputation as they once did, and there are a number of things experts say support that theory. These include:
- More people are waiting to get married – Data from U.S. census reports and studies like those conducted by Pew Research show that Americans, and especially young adults considered millennials, are getting married at a later age than their parents or grandparents did. For example, the current average of U.S. males who get married for their first time is 29, and the average age for women 27. Compare this to statistics from the early 1960’s, when the average marriage age was 21 for women and 23 for men, and it becomes clear that’s a significant amount of time.
- Changing Values – Many experts attribute the increase in the average age of marriage to various factors, most significantly of which may be changing values and younger generations that don’t view marriage in the same way their predecessors did. That’s true of millennials, over 70% of whom have reported that marriage would be less of a priority when compared to having children or relocating for a good job. It’s also true of Americans from any generation that grew up with parents who divorced, had friends or relatives divorce, or saw divorce being actively discussed and depicted in movies or television – especially as those things became more common from the late 1960s moving forward. More people also understand that marriages don’t always work out, which not only changes their view about marriage, but also their desires to prepare for what is not all that uncommon. In the U.S., roughly 40 to 50 percent of first-time marriages end in divorce.
- More assets and things to protect – One reason why prenups are gaining popularity among both millennials and older Americans is that they have more things that may be worth protecting, especially in the event of divorce and property division. For millennials who delay marriage and use that time to establish meaningful careers, earn a degree and steady income, or purchase assets like cars or condos, there is often a desire to protect those things when entering into a marriage. For older Americans who accumulated more assets throughout their life, or profited from home purchases or other investments they made at a younger age, prenuptial agreements are also a practical tool for creating safeguards.
- More Debt – Although having more assets may mean that more people with those assets would want to protect themselves when entering into marriage, more debt and liabilities may mean more people without them, or couples in general, want to protect themselves as well. While this can be especially true for younger generations saddled with student loan debt (now approaching $1.4 trillion nationwide), it can also be true of anyone struggling with a tough economy, credit card debt, medical bills, and other types of financial liabilities.
The ultimate take-away that may come from assessing the numbers is that more people are seeing prenuptial agreements for what they have always been – legal safeguards. All opinions or misconceptions aside, prenuptial agreements are designed to function as legal measures any individual (man, woman, old, or young) can use to reduce risks of dispute in the event of divorce, and protect what matters to them
At Schuttler, Greenberg & Mullins, LLC, our Boca Raton family law attorneys proudly serve men, women, and families of all types in matters involving divorce and family law, including prenuptial agreements. If you would like more information about prenups, why a prenuptial agreement is worth considering in your situation, and how we can help you, please contact us for an initial consultation.