For the generation that’s lived through enough social crises for a millennium (see what I did there?), we certainly still act like we’re in total control of everything. You would think that after graduating from college like we were supposed to and only having a pile of student debt to show for it, we would have learned our lesson. However, alas, we are nothing if not optimistic people.
News flash: you are not in control of anything except for yourself. I know it, you know it, hell – we ALL know it, but we still act like if we do what we’re supposed to do, everything will turn out the way it’s supposed to turn out.
And here we are – now amid a global pandemic. Honestly, sometimes I just have to laugh to keep from crying.
But here’s the great news: somehow, you made it to adulthood, you’re alive and happy, and now you’ve met someone that you can tolerate well enough to spend the rest of forever with. You’re in pure wedding-planning bliss, perhaps.
Now, I’m going to tell you something very important. Something that deep down, you already know, but in your romantic, millennial brain, you probably don’t want to believe it. You damn sure don’t want to say it out loud.
You might get divorced one day.
There, I said it.
No matter how in love you are at this moment, remember that you’re of the generation that watched the towers fall live on TV in school. When you grew up, the economy completely collapsed. Your parents probably are divorced. You graduated from college and couldn’t get a job. Translation: you have zero control over things you cannot control.
Alright, now that I’ve been a complete downer, let’s move on to how this applies to your upcoming marriage plans and why you need to start using some of that internal cynicism for good.
Reason Number 1: Millennials are Smart
Okay, let’s move on from all the terrible stuff you’ve experienced and talk about some of the positives.
Millennials are much better educated than previous generations, with the biggest gains going to the ladies. With all those brains, you can make rational, well-thought decisions about your future with your spouse-to-be.
So, think about this:
- Millennials are getting married later in life, meaning more financial success and more assets when they enter the marriage.
- More women are becoming top earners in the relationship, meaning there is potential for wife-to-husband spousal support in the case of divorce.
- Divorces can be extremely expensive – making certain agreements in advance will avoid costly fighting in the courts.
- Prenups are created in the interest of fairness and mutual respect, something that all of us millennials can get behind.
With those kinds of considerations, it’s easy to see the rationale for why prenups need to be a standard part of the conversation during marriage planning. It’s wise never to leave important discussions like these “off the table” and include them in your other debates about the future.
Reason Number 2: Your Bank Account Balance Doesn’t Matter
Many people associate prenuptial agreements with rich celebrities and think that if they don’t have a big bank balance, they don’t need to worry. However, this couldn’t be farther from the truth.
The #1 misconception that most people have about prenups is that only the rich and famous need them and use them.
Your assets and worth are about more than just what’s in your checking account today. Remember, when you get married, you’re planning on a partnership for the future – for the long haul.
That means that prenuptial agreements cover a lot more than just your cash on hand. The prenup can help to settle questions about property, children that either of you may have from previous relationships, debt, retirement funds, any business interests, or even who gets custody of your pets.
Regardless of your income level, a prenuptial agreement ensures that any division of assets and property will be fair and equitable. It also offers protection against the skyrocketing costs of divorce attorneys should you end up needing representation during a divorce.
Reason #3: You’re Protecting Your Future
The recent increase in prenuptial agreements can be attributed to millennial couples, with lawyers across the board reporting as many as 5-times more prenups over the last two decades.
Many young people have waited to get married because they’ve been spending their early adulthood preparing for the future – getting an education, finding a good job, building a career, etc., at the expense of relationships, marriage, and having children.
With all of the time and sacrifices so many millennials have already made, it’s no surprise that they’re taking action to protect their investments (of time, money, and social capital).
According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the top three considerations in marriage contracts included:
- Protecting any increase in value of property owned before the marriage,
- Protecting property or assets acquired from an inheritance, and
- Dividing community property.
A prenuptial agreement can also protect your savings for the future, such as a 401(k) or other retirement accounts. If you have stock or other investments, you should consider those fair game for distribution should you get divorced without a prenup.
A prenup is also a necessary tool to protect yourself against being held responsible for debt accrued by your spouse during the marriage or student loan debt from either party (which we know is a big problem for millennials).
Remember, if you don’t make these decisions yourselves, someone else will. If not the both of you as a couple, it could end up being a family court judge who doesn’t know anything about either of you as individuals and doesn’t understand anything about the dynamics of your marriage.
Reason #4: Prenups Are Not Always Super Expensive
Even if you think that a prenup would be a good idea, you might think it’s not an option because it would require an expensive lawyer, or it would be another added cost to your already over-budget wedding plans.
Here’s a little secret: it doesn’t have to be super expensive. HelloPrenup can help you draft and create a personalized prenuptial agreement for as little as $599. Realistically, that cost is just a fraction of what the peace of mind is worth, knowing that you won’t have to worry about doing things you both will regret later if your marriage ends.
Even if you feel like you don’t have a lot of assets worth protecting, remember that it’s not about the money in your bank account; it’s about the potential for your future.
Plus, going through the process of creating a prenup together can actually result in a stronger relationship by creating clarity between the both of you. When you have the kinds of conversations that you’ll have while completing the HelloPrenup questionnaire, you’ll learn things about each other that you may not have known before.
Finances are one of the biggest relationship killers and the thing that everyone says couples fight about the most. HelloPrenup will help you navigate those tough and awkward conversions focusing on fairness, equity, and mutual respect.
And that, my friend, is priceless.
Who Needs a Prenup?
The most accurate answer is everybody needs to consider a prenup. However, some situations definitely mean that a prenuptial agreement would be a good idea if they apply to you.
Remember, no one enters a marriage planning for divorce, but still 40-50% of couples will decide to split. Deciding what that will look like before you hate each other’s guts will give you a solid foundation to build on – a foundation based on trust and respect.
You should seriously consider a prenup if:
- You’re getting married for the second (or third) time.
- One or both of you already has children (or grandchildren)
- You plan to have children together
- One spouse plans to stay home to take care of children
- One or both of you has significant student debt
- One or both of you owns a business or is a partner in a business
- One or both of you already owns your home (or other property)
- You have an established retirement account
- You plan to inherit family wealth or property one day
- You’re working toward a degree with high-earning potential
These special circumstances (notice that none of them say “you’re uber-rich”) are situations where a prenuptial agreement would help ensure that a divorce would be handled fairly and equitably.
Millennials are also sometimes called “the ME generation,” and there’s a reason for that. We were raised to think that way. Millennials were taught that the world was our oyster and that no dream was too big.
So now, I say wear that badge proudly – it’s okay to worry about “me,” and if you’re going to start building a life with another human, you should start by talking about what’s important to both of you. Remember, a prenup isn’t about the end – it’s about the beginning of a new life and starting that life as equal partners.
- Pew Research Center: Millennial life: How young adulthood today compares with prior generations
- HG: Prenups aren’t only for the wealthy
- Good Morning America: Who gets the dog in the divorce? Enter the pet prenup
- CNBC: How millennials are getting smarter about marriage
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].