The Idea of a Prenup Has Changed
In the past, a lot of people assume a famous or rich person is involved when someone mentions a prenup. A prenup, short for a prenuptial agreement is an agreement made between two people before marrying that establishes ownership of respective assets. But the idea that only a famous or rich person uses a prenup is actually becoming further and further from the truth. When it used to consist oftentimes of famous or rich people the purpose of the prenup was to protect family money or business interests. Prenups go beyond that today. Millennials own more small businesses, start ups, and are coming into more hard earned moolah than generations past, thanks to their creative minds and ability to see opportunity ahead. On that note, they are also coming into more debt than generations past, due to those insanely expensive undergraduate and masters degrees. More and more millennials are requesting prenups before getting married than generations past. The number has jumped in recent years as millennials have hit marriage age. The American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers conducted a recent study that found that 62% of lawyers found an increase in prenups. More than half of the lawyers saw an increase in prenups among millennials.
Why Millennials Are Requesting Prenups
There are two main reasons why millennials are requesting prenups:
- Marriage waits: Many millennials are getting married later on in life and so have more assets, debts, and finances involved in their lives.
- Children of divorce: Many millennials are children of divorced parents, making them aware of the commitment of marriage and what can happen when finances aren’t talked about before marriage.
We are living in a world that is dramatically different from generations past, and therefore marriage is different from generations past. Women are more independent with their finances due to the fact that they marry later, have children later, and are career focused. Women are living more independent lifestyles than their mothers and are searching for protection of their hard earned assets. The delay in marriage allows generally speaking, more people to accumulate more assets by the time they do get married. The number has jumped more than two years later already from 2005. And not only are millennials waiting longer to get married, statistics have found that they are dating longer as well before they get married.
As divorce rates go up, more millennials have been raised underneath a split household where their parents have different houses and different families. They might even live in different cities. It is never the goal to get divorced, but when you are a child of divorce, you have an even greater motivation to not get divorced. You want to keep your family together, and in the case that something were to happen to your marriage in the future, you want a peaceful transition out of your marriage- probably, unlike your parents. Millennials today are becoming more savvy and have learned from past generations’ mistakes. They are taking smarter steps when entering a marriage- and these steps can help prevent a chaotic and stressful divorce. Prenups are becoming more popular as millennials get smarter about their futures. It’s never bad a bad idea to be as informed as possible about your financial future- and a prenuptial agreement before marriage is an ideal way to achieve this.
Student loans are another area of finances that has blown up across the country in the past few decades. More and more students have more and more debt- whether it is undergraduate loans, or graduate education loans from that masters degree- it seems everyone holds some type of school debt these days. So, what happens if you or your future spouse have debt, and you don’t have a prenup? Well, you could be liable for some of your spouse’s debt. Yep- you heard that right – without a prenup, one might be left responsible for half of a spouse’s outstanding debts. The average millennial carries debt hovering around $30,000, including student loan debt and credit card debt. A prenup can clarify whether debt is separate property (as opposed to marital property….) and therefore should remain solely responsible by the person who earned it. A prenup requires full financial disclosures from both spouses (at least most states do- and, if you want to be careful you should ALWAYS disclose all finances in your financial schedule!). So, what are financial disclosures anyway? These can include bank accounts, investments, tax returns, insurance policies, debts, and any expected inheritances if there are any, that are laid out with balances on your financial schedule, which is included in your prenup. Laying it all out on the table can help clarify all the finances before going into the marriage and also ensures that there aren’t any surprises later on, for either party. After all- how could you negotiate or agree to the terms of your prenup without having all the information first? We also live in a technology driven world where uncertain assets are becoming more popular, like investing in stocks, bitcoin and founding start-up companies. According to an article by the New York Post, nearly 7 in 10 millennials are investing financially in something. So, it follows that as the age of marriage goes up, there is more wanted protection against uncertain economic events and potential rifts in relationships that could drain those hard earned investment accounts and no-so-hard earned bitcoin billionaire status ???? We’ve said it before, and we will say it again… on average, millennials are waiting longer to get married and are focusing on their professional careers, having more assets to protect. So, why wouldn’t you get a prenup?
If you get are married, you have a prenup anyway
“Whaaaaaaa??” Yes, you read that right. Whether you know it or not, just by getting married, you have a prenup. Let us explain. A marriage is a contract between two people- without them knowing it, the state they live in has control over what happens to their assets, income, and debt if they get divorced. State law will dictate who pays alimony, for what period of time, and who gets the condo. So, rather than let your state laws determine what happens to your “stuff” and your money, why not decide for yourself? Well, that’s what a prenup does. It allows you and your fiancé to decide for yourselves. So, when people claim that a prenup isn’t romantic, think about that for a moment. First off, not everything in a relationship needs to be, or should be, romantic. A marriage is a commitment to someone through the good and the bad, through sickness and health, through the rollercoaster that is life. There will be amazing moments and there will be bad moments. Secondly, think about the fact that those same people who get married without a prenup, while believing they are being “romantic” are actually just subjecting themselves to their state’s divorce laws should they divorce in the future. What is romantic about that? You guessed it- Nothing.
As the idea behind the prenup is evolving, so is what is included in one. Prenups these days can include clauses that are geared specifically towards what each couple needs, beyond the typical “what’s mine is mine and what’s yours is yours.” Like what, you may ask? Social media is one of those new clauses that is more commonly used than in the past. Most of us actively use social media these days, so it makes sense that a prenup would discuss this topic. A social media clause often discusses that couples cannot post about each other in a disparaging way during or after the divorce. Of course, this can be closer tailored to the couples needs, but generally is designed to protect parties from posting negatively about one another. Pets! Our pets are our best friends, especially if a pet came into the picture before the relationship- but also if Mr. Fluffster was adopted by you and your fiancé together. So, it follows that ownership of Mr. Fluffster should be decided in your prenup. You may be confused, like, ‘why would I include “ownership” of this Mr. Fluffster, isn’t his custody determined the same way a child would be??? Isn’t my status as a pet parent legitimate??’ It is, it is. We don’t mean to insult. We are just here to remind you that pets are still considered property in the eyes of the law, so yes, they unfortunately need to be listed as “property” in a prenup. But don’t worry, a prenup will allow you to dictate what happens to Mr. Fluffster. There are other reasons that factor into why more millennials are signing prenups, but that most obvious ones are greater income and assets at the time of marriage, experiences from parents, and rising student debt prior to marriage. Whatever the situation is, being honest and transparent about your wants and needs, and coming up with an agreed-upon plan can only help your marriage. The moral of this story? There’s a prenup for that.
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].