Entering into marriage is a long-term commitment and is also a legally recognized union. Understanding the legal ramifications of marriage and possibly divorce is critical to ensuring a secure future. While in the past, prenups have been viewed as reserved for wealthier people, they are beneficial for any individual, no matter their background. In fact, an uprise of millennials, the demographic born between 1981-1996, are opting for prenups before tying the knot.
Why Are Millennials Getting Prenups?
A prenup is an agreement between two people before marriage that establishes ownership of assets. There are two main reasons for millennials choosing to complete a prenup before marrying, the first being that many millennials are getting married later in life, and the second is that a significant number of millennials are children of divorce.
Millennials, specifically women, have pursued higher education at an increased rate compared to previous generations. This means that women have prioritized establishing careers for themselves and put traditional values, such as starting a family, on the back burner to advance their careers and gain personal assets. With an increased likelihood of accumulating assets such as owning property, a prenup is beneficial to ensure an individual remains the owner of the assets acquired before marriage. In 1980, just 13 percent of women who lived with a male partner earned at least half the couple’s income — today, that number has nearly tripled.
Debt is also a driving factor for creating a prenup. With the increase in higher education costs, there has been a significant rise in debt among millennials. According to the College Board, millennials’ average student loan debt in 2020 was $38,000. In Florida, without a prenup, debt is divided using equitable distribution. This means that the court determines the debt division equitably, not equally, between parties. Millennials see the benefit in prenups because they can outline the responsibility of the debt and ensure they are not taking on any or more debt that their spouse obtained.
Another factor is that millennials experienced their parents’ divorce and want to use caution when entering a marriage. According to the Pew Research Center, more than one-third of millennials grew up with single or divorced parents. Having been exposed to the emotional and financial hardships of divorce, going through the steps of a prenup lessens the chance of conflict and lengthy legal battles if they later get divorced.
Determining if a Prenup is Right for You
While prenups receive stigma as a “divorce contract,” many legal and financial professionals view them as an intelligent business move. Below are several factors that indicate a prenup would be beneficial to you or your partner:
- Own property or a business
- Have children from a previous relationship
- Plan to take time off to raise children
- Have significant debt
- Have robust retirement accounts
- Will receive stock options during marriage
Moreover, it is important to consider the legal standard for where you live. Under Florida divorce law 61.075, when a married couple files for divorce, there will be an equitable distribution, which encompasses marital assets and liabilities. Usually, a court will divide marital assets and liabilities 50/50 unless factors make an equal split inequitable. Therefore, a prenup is used to gain control of the distribution of assets and liabilities and have an amicable understanding of the distributions.
Discussing Prenups with Your Partner
Communication is key to any healthy relationship. Having conversations about prenups early in an engagement can be beneficial. Most millennials are in long-term relationships for several years before getting engaged, and it is crucial to address future and current expectations to ensure both parties are on the same page. It is helpful to compare a prenup to an insurance policy for a catastrophic event; it protects both people in the partnership and any future children from the emotional and financial toll of a long, messy divorce.
Working together with your partner and tackling a prenup agreement as a team is an aspect of healthy communication. Seeking legal advice and counsel early on to assess both parties’ finances and assets will provide clarity and work towards drafting a prenup agreement that you and your partner are satisfied with.
Marriage is an exciting commitment that partners make with one another; prenups are another level of commitment partners can make to ensure a secure and fair future if they decide to divorce. As millennials wait to get married later in life, they opt for prenups as an extra layer of caution. When determining if a prenup is right for your relationship, it is important to meet with a legal professional to discuss your options and how to best protect yourself and your partner.