Prenuptial agreements have historically held a less-than-stellar reputation. Often viewed as an unromantic gesture or an arrangement exclusive to celebrities or the very wealthy, prenuptial agreements, or “prenups” for short, haven’t been something most couples in previous decades typically considered or discussed. However, a new study is showing that prenups are on the rise throughout the U.S., and that most Americans are realizing their effectiveness as a sensible agreement that can protect what matters most to marrying spouses.
As shown in a recent study from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, the use of prenuptial agreements by U.S. spouses prior to marriage has increased dramatically in recent years. Here are a few of the most important findings from the study:
- Over 60% of U.S. family lawyers surveyed in the study reported significant agreements in requests for prenuptial agreements over the past three years.
- Over the past 20 years, the same surveyed attorneys reported a fivefold increase in prenups.
- Roughly half of surveyed attorney respondents noted an increase in female spouses initiating requests for prenuptial agreements.
The report’s findings are shedding light on a significant development in family law, as well as societal and economic changes that have reshaped the way many spouses view prenuptial agreements. In fact, experts have noted that findings such as these may indicate a number of reasons why more American couples are turning to prenups at the outset of a marriage. These include:
- The rising average age of marriage – Statistics have shown that the average age of marriage in America has risen by several years. According to Pew Research, American men now marry at the average age of 29, and woman at the average age of 27. This is compared to the average age of 23 for men and 21 for women in 1963. What that change signifies, among other societal changes and differing views about the importance of marriage, is that more Americans are waiting to get married. When they do decide to tie the knot, they often have accomplished and acquired more than their younger marrying counterparts decades ago. This can include an education (in addition to student loan debt), an established career, and accumulated wealth in a retirement account or savings plan, stock options (which are a common hiring incentive in industries like tech), and more personal property such as a home or vehicle. For many in this position, taking advantage of an available legal tool like a prenuptial agreement can have benefits when it comes to protecting the property they’ve earned, or protecting themselves against financial burdens like a spouse’s student loans, in the event of a divorce.
- Changing views on divorce – American couples today have a much different take on divorce than their processors. For younger couples, that has a lot to do with growing up during a time where divorce rates peaked (the 1980s and 1990s) or growing up with divorced parents and having a front row seat to the reality that some marriages don’t always work, and that divorce can create concerns and legal battles over things like property division. It may also be due to older couples that are increasing marrying and divorcing at older ages, particularly when they have already been divorced at least once before. Those experiences, along with other factors, have contributed to a more reasonable view on marriage and divorce, and prompts many to take time when considering how to best protect themselves in the event that, like many of the others which become statistics, their marriage doesn’t pan out.
- Economic trends – Young and older Americans getting married today have experience times of not only changing social views, but also major economic trends. This includes the Great Recession, housing market collapse, high unemployment rates, and student loan debt crisis, among others. These experiences, experts agree, have made millennials and older Americans more acutely aware of the risks they take on when engaging in financial relationships, which can include not only the purchase of real estate or investing, but also a marriage. As such, both millennials and older adults (many of who have higher net worth), find prenups advantageous to protecting their own interests amid the reality of economic turbulence.
- Prenups can effectively protect property – The ultimate game-changer for why prenups have taken on a different role in modern America is that they are now seen more as effective legal measures that can protect their rights, property, and interests rather than an under-utilized marital contract or agreement reserved only for super stars. Today, American couples from all walks of life understand that importance of openly discussing financial issues at the outset of a marriage, and taking steps to create mutual legal protections that can serve an important purpose when marriages don’t end as planned.
At DiPietro Law Group, PLLC, our divorce and family law attorneys have seen first-hand how societal changes, economic trends, and changing views impact the cases we handle and the goals our clients have. This is why we make ourselves readily available to help clients tackle unique and new issues, or help clients take advantage of long-established legal tools they may only now see as beneficial to their rights, interests, and futures.
If you have questions about prenuptial agreements, or post-nuptial agreements, and how they may be of benefit in your particular situation, we invite you to speak with an experienced attorney from our team. During an initial consultation, we can help you understand your rights and available options, and how a prenuptial agreement can be tailored to address the unique concerns and issues you and your spouse wish to address. To request a consultation, contact us today.