For many generations, a prenuptial agreement was treated as the harbinger of a doomed marriage. After all, if you’re willing to draw up a contract about how to divide property before the marriage even starts, your relationship must not be that strong to begin with.
True to form, however, the millennial generation is bucking this traditional sentiment. According to the New York Times, most millennial couples consider getting a prenuptial agreement an essential item on their wedding checklist. And unlike in generations past, most 20- and 30-somethings do not share feelings of guilt, mistrust or apprehension when it comes to prenups.
Three reasons why millennials pursue prenups
The Times points out several reasons why millennials seem much more comfortable with the idea of prenuptial agreements:
First of all, the average age to get married has increased significantly over the last few decades. The U.S. Census Bureau reports that as of 2017, women get married at age 27 and men at age 29, on average. By contrast, people in 1990 got married around their mid-20s; ages drop even further to 19 or 20 in the 1950s.
Getting married later means both people usually bring more money and maybe even physical or business property into the marriage – property they want to protect in case this doesn’t pan out.
Secondly, many millennials have already experienced the pain of divorce – as children. More than one-third of millennials come from single-parent or divorced households, meaning they intuitively understand what’s at stake. Some may call them cynical, but having lived through the process once, most millennials want to do what they can to avoid the financial (and emotional) mistakes their parents made.
Finally (and probably as a result of the first two reasons), millennials do not bring as much emotional baggage to the prenuptial agreement discussion. Many view prenups as business transactions, something to discuss and check off along with buying the dress or tux, ordering flowers and finding a wedding venue.
Some experts speculate that this more practical mindset stems from the growth of women in the workforce. Now that both partners earn significant salaries, both want to divorce-proof their hard-earned (individual) assets.
Need a prenup yourself?
While we’d like to attribute the rise in prenuptial agreements to lawyers’ increased marketing savvy, the truth is simply that more and more adults today recognize that the benefits of a prenup far outweigh the costs. They know that prenups aren’t just for celebrities.
The trick, of course, is to ensure your agreement aligns with California law. If it doesn’t, the agreements made won’t be enforceable should a divorce occur. For that reason, it’s best if you both plan a visit with a family law attorney instead of downloading the first fill-in-the-blank form you find on the internet. If you are sincere about wanting to protect your assets – and your marriage – it’s best to do this the traditional way.