“It’s just a practical document in today’s age with a rising rate of divorce,” said Rachel Ryan, 26, who is planning a wedding for July.
Just more than half of the attorneys in a recent survey cited a boost in the number of millennials requesting prenuptial agreements, according to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. Only 2 percent saw a decrease among 18- to-34-year-olds.
Across the board, 62 percent of the lawyers polled have seen an increase in the total number of clients who are seeking prenups during the past three years, the AAML said. That follows a fivefold increase in prenuptial agreements over the past 20 years, according to Arlene Dubin, chair of the matrimonial and family law practice of Moses & Singer in New York.
Millennials, in particular, are entering into marriages later, which may mean they have more to protect in the event of a divorce.
In part because of their financial obligations, nearly one-third of millennials said they were putting off getting married and 38 percent said they postponed having children, according to a TD Ameritrade survey released last year of 1,000 adults age 18 and older.
Millennials are also proactively choosing to make such significant sacrifices for career advancement, according to a new survey by Wakefield Research for Graebel, a corporate relocation service, About 71 percent would be willing to postpone marriage and 72 percent would be willing to delay having children to relocate for a job in a desired location, Wakefield Research said.
“They’ve been on their own, accumulated some wealth, either from a 401(k) or a stock program provided by their employer or some real estate, and they want to make sure that’s theirs if there are problems down the road,” said John Slowiaczek, president of the AAML.
In fact, the top three areas most commonly covered by the marriage contracts were “protection of the increase of value in separate property” followed by “inheritance rights” and “community property division,” the AAML said.
Couples aren’t just bringing assets to a marriage these days. They are also saddled with outstanding student loan debt, which now stands near $1.3 trillion in the U.S.
Prenups, which safeguard individual assets like retirement accounts, real estate and investments, can also cover one partner’s student loan or credit card debt.
That was a factor for Ryan, a freelance writer. “Because my fiance has a small business, it’s important for him to protect that,” she said. “He also has quite a bit of student debt so I thought it could benefit both of us.”
Aside from the bottom line, their own experience may also play a role, Slowiaczek said. “Many millennials are children of divorce,” he said, “they are predisposed to protect their interests.”
In that case, a prenup also offers the chance to hash out how a divorce handles issues like how a partner might be compensated for leaving the workforce to care for their children.
And then there’s Tinder. “The social dynamic has changed,” Slowiaczek said. A large number of millennials have group dated, or relied on dating apps like Tinder, “rather than having a single date where they could establish a relationship,” he said. “I wonder whether they have the romantic commitment to marriage that older generations have had.”
Only 42 percent of millennials believe marriage is a life goal, according to a separate study by Avvo, an online legal marketplace.
Whatever the drivers, an uptick in prenups among younger couples isn’t necessarily bad, Slowiaczek said. “Any time someone has accumulated wealth, then it’s a good idea.”