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Prenuptial agreements are no longer just for the rich

While prenuptial agreements were once reserved for the wealthy, a growing number of Americans are signing these contracts before saying “I do” at the altar.

In a 2022 Harris Poll report, 15% of American adults surveyed said they had signed a prenup, a steady increase from just 3% in 2010.

And a total of 35 percent of unmarried people said they would also be likely to sign a prenup in the future.

Matt Furman, the dating expert behind Connection Copilot, said he got a prenup before his wedding because he knew how likely divorces could be.

“Divorce is extremely common and the courts favor the woman in terms of settlement agreements, regardless of the man’s financial situation,” Furman said. News week.

Tim Connon, the founder of Tennessee-based ParamountQuote Insurance Advisors, had a slightly different reason for entering into the legal agreement before getting married.

“Our reason was that we both believe that the Bible says that a woman has no right to a man’s property, regardless of the circumstances,” Connon said. News week. “That’s why she agreed to a prenup in case things didn’t work out and they didn’t work out.”

Prenuptial agreements are becoming more common as Americans learn more about the financial realities of divorce, which can often split your financial assets in two or leave you with hefty alimony payments.

“I think more and more people are doing it because they fear the legal hassle of it and putting them at significant financial risk of not having one,” Connon said. “They may feel insecure and want to protect their assets from any challenges against them.”

A sign from the Financial Times

Experts say the premarital trend reflects a growing desire for financial security among the younger generation. They experienced significant levels of student debt and a high degree of inflation when making major life decisions, such as buying a home and getting married.

According to a Real Estate Witch survey, about three-quarters of millennials average more than $100,000 in debt, not including their mortgage.

People are also marrying later in life, with the average age at marriage being between 28 and 30, compared to 25 and 26 two decades ago.

“An agreement really doesn’t make sense when you’re young and poor, because prenuptial agreements won’t do much to prevent community or marital property from being built when you’re starting from scratch,” said Zachary Ashby, an attorney at the firm Pacific Northwest Family Law. News week.

“But if you marry while you have work experience, a retirement account, or even a house because you marry while you are at least somewhat established, a prenuptial agreement provides some protection.”

And as women have more financial freedom than in decades past, they may have greater incentive to determine who gets what in the event of a subsequent divorce.

“More and more women are focusing on a career and becoming financially independent before getting married,” said Anna Blood, managing attorney at Blood Law. News week.

“They also grew up watching older generations of divorced women having to start over completely because their former partners were the breadwinners while they were stay-at-home moms.”

While no one hopes to get a divorce, it is a level of protection and a mutual agreement between two individuals in case things go south, Blood said.

Much of the younger generation has seen their parents fight nasty divorce court battles, and they may be hoping to avoid history repeating itself, experts say.

As these changes occur, prenuptial agreements are becoming less about wealth and more about clarifying financial expectations between two people before they get married.

If this trend continues, there could be a whole new perspective on these types of legal agreements, which have been considered taboo and pessimistic in the past, according to Bayu Prihandito, life coach and founder of Life Architekture.

In the future, relationships may be more fluid and less tied to traditional norms, Prihandito said.

“The emphasis will be on mutual respect, understanding and personal growth,” Prihandito said. News week. “Contracts such as prenuptial agreements will be seen less as a lack of trust and more as a tool for clarity and mutual understanding. The essence will shift from ’till death do us part’ to ‘as long as we continue to grow together.”

Stock image. Prenuptial agreements are gaining popularity and celebration due to late marriages.
fizkes/Getty Images