Prenuptial agreements, also referred to as prenups or prenuptial agreements, have not earned the greatest reputation throughout the years. While they may have once been viewed as something less-than-romantic or used only by celebrities and the very wealthy, prenups are now becoming increasingly popular across the country, especially among millennial couples and women, according to a recent survey from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML). As the survey notes, more Americans today are recognizing the benefits of using available legal measures to protect themselves and their interests when entering into a major life decision.
According to the AAML, more than half of all divorce lawyers surveyed (63%) reported a significant increase in the number or prenuptial agreements over the past three years. Roughly 46% also noted an increase in the number of female clients initiating prenuptial agreement requests. According to experts and divorce lawyers, there are a few reasons behind this:
- More exposure to divorce – Both younger and older Americans have been increasingly exposed to divorce over the past several decades. With divorce rates reaching their highest point in the 1980s and 1990s, many children who grew up during that time (or millennials as they’re known) experienced divorce first hand through their parents, or through the experiences of friends and family members. Older adults, many of whom are driving increased rates of Grey Divorce, have also been exposed to divorce in their own lives. In fact, Americans 55 and older comprise the largest group of first-time divorcees than any other age group. This exposure likely has a significant impact on the ways couples today view marriage as something that may not always work out, as well as the challenges that can arise when it comes to legally dissolving a marriage and addressing issues such as property division, spousal maintenance, and more.
- Americans are getting married at an older age – Younger Americans are waiting longer to tie the knot than their parents and grandparents. While the average age of marriage in 1963 was 23 for men and 21 for women, that average increased to 29 for men and 27 for women in 2015, according to Pew Research. By waiting to get married, more millennials have received an education, established careers, and even purchased assets like cars and condos before they get married. With more financial security to offer a partnership and more assets, millennials are seeing the benefits of protecting them through the use of prenuptial agreements. The same desire to protect these types of assets is also seen among older Americans who have already been married and divorced prior to a new marriage, and have assets like retirement accounts or unique concerns such as health care to consider.
- Changing views on marriage – Aside from more exposure to divorce and more assets to protect by marrying at an older age, Americans across the board have changed their views about marriage, particularly as it relates to being an institution where the words “till death do us part” are a focal point. Today, more Americans recognize that marriage is not always a lifelong commitment, especially with greater awareness of what constitutes a healthy relationship and issues such as domestic violence. More educated couples, changing dating habits, increases in Grey Divorce, and advancement of women’s rights have also played a role in reshaping views of marriage, particularly in terms of risks associated with real estate, finances, debt, and other assets subject to division during divorce.
- Debt – Millennials are increasingly entering into marriage with student loan debt, which has surpassed $1.2 trillion nationwide. This significant liability has made many couples reassess how they are shared or divided during divorce, and has led them to take steps that protect themselves in the event their marriage doesn’t end up as planned. Prenups are an effective means for addressing separate property and debt prior to a marriage, including not only student loans, but also debt and liabilities like credit cards, medical bills, and more.
The rise in prenuptial agreements in recent years illustrates how divorce and family law adapt to new trends, societal views, and economic factors. Whatever the underlying reason may be, more Americans are learning that prenups are not exclusive to superstars or the very rich, and are in fact a beneficial practical measure to take when protecting their rights and interests. This understanding has also contributed to an increase in postmarital agreements, which function in the same way as prenups to strengthen marriages and provide financial security after couples are already married. There are also no-nuptial agreements, which can protect individuals in a non-marital relationship after they have lived together and / or shared assets.
At Boudreaux Hunter & Associates, LLC, our Houston divorce lawyers have worked with clients of all ages and backgrounds who have benefited from establishing clear terms that strengthen their marriage from the outset. If you have questions regarding prenuptial agreements, postmarital agreements, or any other divorce or family law related matter, we are available to discuss your case personally during an initial consultation. Call to speak with a member of our team.