(from Erin McDowell’s 9/3/2019 Business Insider article. Click here for the original post. Erin is a junior reporter on the Insider Inc. distribution team covering food, lifestyle, careers, finance, etc. Find out more about Erin here or on LinkedIn.)
There’s been a 62% spike in people getting prenups, and experts say it’s being driven by millennials
When it comes to millennials’ views on marriage, perhaps Kanye West said it best — “we want prenup.”
According to a recent study conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), 62% of divorce attorneys surveyed reported an increase in the total number of clients requesting prenuptial agreements in recent years. Among those attorneys who reported an increase, 51% said there was an increase in the number of millennial clients signing prenups.
Jacqueline Itani, an Associate at Stutman, Stutman & Lichtenstein, LLP with a strong background in Matrimonial law and Family and Divorce Mediation, spoke to Business Insider about why young people are interested in signing prenuptial agreements and protecting themselves in the event of a divorce.
Here are the biggest reasons why more millennials are interested in getting prenups than ever before.
Millennials want to protect their assets
Although, fewer millennials on average own houses than in previous generations, millennial couples may still have significant assets they want to protect going into a marriage.
The Pew Research Center argues that millennials may be more cautious about protecting their finances upon getting married due to the turbulent economy millennials experienced when they entered the workforce in 2008.
Jacqueline Itani also argues that millennials worry about a potential divorce affecting their future financial situation and want to protect themselves in case a divorce does happen.
Itani explains that while millennials may not have as many “hard” assets compared to when baby boomers and Gen X-ers were young, they are increasingly interested in investing in the stock market and startup businesses.
According to an article by the New York Post, nearly 7 in 10 millennials are investing financially in something.
“With the tech industry rising, more people are coming into the marriage with stock options and fewer concrete assets as we’ve seen in the past. The value of these assets is a little more uncertain until these companies do or don’t go public. By then, the marriage is well underway,” she says. “People feel that they would be more protected by entering into a prenup.”
Millennials are getting married later in life and may have more assets going into marriage than past generations
Itani explains that another factor leading to an increase in prenuptial agreements among young people is that millennials are getting married later in life than members of past generations.
Unlike baby boomers or Gen X-ers who married in their early twenties, millennials are choosing to wait until their late 20s or early 30s to tie the knot. According to a previous article by Business Insider, in 1962, 90% of 30-year-olds had been married at least once. In 2018, only 54% of 30-year-olds had been married.
“Millennials are waiting a longer time [than past generations] to get married and focusing more and more on their professional careers,” Itani explained. “In that sense, they have more assets to protect when they do get married.”
Millennials don’t just want to protect their current assets — they also want to safeguard assets they may acquire later on in life
Itani explains that while a prenup can certainly help guard and protect the assets couples have going into a marriage, it can also protect assets that individuals might acquire down the line, or secure their financial situation in the case of a future divorce.
“A majority of the prenups that you see are from people who come into the marriage with assets or have assets they expect to receive — whether that be an inheritance from their family or gifts that they want to protect,” says Itani.
As much as prenups can be about protecting what you have now, they can also protect what you will have down the line.
“If one client is making a significant income compared to their partner, they may also want a prenup to protect themselves from future support or alimony payments,” Itani explains.
Millennials don’t see prenups as taboo
Prenuptial agreements have been considered taboo in the past, but millennials are changing that reputation. Prenups were previously seen as only intended for wealthy people, and even had a reputation of leading to divorce — this has been disproven by studies.
“People are becoming more knowledgeable about prenuptial agreements,” she says. “Millennials are concentrating more on building their career and becoming more knowledgeable about what assets will come of their career, and what their income will be in the future. Millennials feel it’s necessary to protect those assets.”
More women are interested in prenuptial agreements
The rise of women in the workforce may also be affecting the rise in prenuptial agreements.
According to a report by The Ladders, women are increasingly becoming interested in signing prenuptial agreements. Pew Research Center reports that 72% of millennial women are employed and, according to a separate AAML study, 45% of attorneys surveyed said more women are responsible for paying alimony after getting a divorce than in previous years.
As more women begin to acquire their own assets and gain financial leverage, there is an increased interest for them to sign a prenuptial agreement prior to getting married.
“Nowadays, with the equalization in the workforce, both spouses are working and becoming professionals,” Itani explains. “They both benefit from signing a prenuptial agreement.”