Does Your Millennial Need a Prenup?

prenuptial agreement

Millennials are marrying later than any generation before them. According to the U.S. Census, the average age of marriage among young adults is 27 for women and 29 for men. In urban areas such as New York, Washington D.C. and Los Angeles, the average age is even higher. There are many reasons for this upward tick, including financial concerns, peripatetic lifestyles and the ability to put off parenthood longer due to medical advances.

Millennials go into marriage with a much more worldly and mature view of their lives than generations before may have done at younger ages. Because of this, young adults are more and more often requesting prenuptial agreements. In fact, unlike in previous generations, young adult women are as likely to request a prenup as are young adult men. This is a good idea, since men who make less than their wives or are financially dependent on them are far more likely to cheat on their spouse than women who are financially dependent on their husbands. In 38% of marriages the woman out earns the man, so a prenuptial agreement is particularly important in those situations.

According to a recent survey of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), 51% of the attorneys cited an increase in the number of millennials requesting prenuptial agreements.  In addition, 62% of the respondents have seen an increase in the total number of clients who are seeking prenups during the past three years.

  The top three items most commonly covered by the marriage contracts were cited as “protection of separate property” by 78% of respondents, “alimony/spousal maintenance” at 74% and “division of property” with a 68% total.  

Millennials have grown up in a world where divorce, single parents and lesbian and gay couples are all commonplace and accepted.

They are practical and realistic about the challenges married couples face in not only staying married, but in maintaining family connections if marriages end. By entering into their marriages with the dotted lines all signed and differences agreed upon, they hope to avoid future conflicts if their marriage should end.

“Couples are getting married at later ages these days and are consequently entering their relationships with more to protect in the event of a divorce.  A prenuptial agreement often represents the most effective way to address these concerns and safeguard individual assets before exchanging vows,” said Joslin Davis, president of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.  “Members of the millennial generation are particularly choosing prenups as the best option to cover separate property holdings, business interests, anticipated family inheritances and potential alimony claims.”

  In addition to the top three items selected as the categories most often covered by prenuptial agreements, the next three most common areas selected were “protection of the increase of value in separate property” at 64% followed by “inheritance rights” at 42% with 24% choosing “community property division.”

Along with the commonly discussed shared  property that goes into a prenup, the separate property also includes ideas, screenplays, software, apps and more.

"I think there's a heightened focus on the creation of something, whether that's in the form of intellectual property or a business that they would establish in the future," explained Michael Mosberg, a partner at Aronson, Mayefsky & Sloan, LLP, a family law firm that has also seen more millennials seeking prenups over the last five years. "They want to protect that idea." - Bloomberg

Prenups can cover more than just property. There is a trend towards committing to six months of marriage counseling before deciding on divorce as part of the prenup agreement. Prenups can have clauses that include goodwill, which will prohibit spouses from badmouthing each other in the event of a marriage ending.

This can be particularly important for professionals such as doctors, lawyers and others who work with the public.

Prenuptial agreements require full disclosure of assets by both parties involved, so honesty from the start is the only way to proceed in order to avoid any surprises down the road should a couple decide to divorce. Love and romance are the beginning of a good marriage, but honesty, commitment and practicality are the basis of a long term success. If your millennial is considering a prenup, don't be alarmed - be encouraged.