Millennials and Prenups – Through a Different Lens Than the Past*

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That is the title of a recent piece by Cheryl Winokur Munk published in The Wall Street Journal. Munk states, “in the past, prenups were most common among young adults from wealthy families or couples entering second or third marriages. Today, younger adults of all income levels are drafting them, not only to protect assets accumulated before and during marriage but to address societal realities that weren’t necessarily present or common years ago, such as a desire to keep finances separate, student debt, social-media use, embryo ownership and even pet care.”

According to a recent study conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), 62% of divorce attorneys surveyed reported an increase in the total number of clients requesting prenuptial agreements in recent years. Among those attorneys who reported an increase, 51% said there was an increase in the number of millennial clients signing prenups.

The Pew Research Center argues that millennials may be more cautious about protecting their finances upon getting married due to the turbulent economy millennials experienced when they entered the workforce in 2008.

Most experts say the first step is using an online tool to help facilitate the discussion. These checklists help you make sure you are addressing all the topics that are relevant to your relationship.

Once you both have come to agreement on the terms, it is time to find legal representation. “When it comes to selecting an attorney, two things are important. First, you should each have your own attorney so that you make sure you have someone advocating for you alone. Second, make sure that they have a strong understanding of state domestic relations law. This way you know your agreement will stand up if you need to enforce it”, advises Kate Cassidy, JD, Vice President, Advanced Markets at Barnum Financial Group.

According to The Knot, one of the top-rated wedding apps, here are some of the terms you need to be familiar with as you begin your prenup discussions:

Separate property assets and liabilities: What you bring into the marriage, not what you acquire during marriage (that’s marital property, below).

Operative event, separation event or termination: The triggering event that puts the prenup terms into action — usually filing for divorce, moving out, or sending an intent to divorce.

Marital property: Property that is earned or acquired during the marriage.
Separate property: Property that belongs to one of the parties prior to the marriage or after the divorce.

Spousal support or maintenance: When one party gives financial support to the other after a divorce. If one spouse gave up his or her career to stay home and take care of a child, the spousal support would mean he or she wouldn’t immediately have to enter the workforce.

These terms are relevant to all prenups. Millennials are adding other issues to the list. For example, some want to prohibit, without prior written consent, the dissemination of information that might disparage or harm one’s image. Such clauses are written to cover all media, including blogging, testing, tweeting, tagging, and posting on all social media outlets.

According to Heather L. Locus, who wrote about “Why Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements Lead to Stronger Marriages and Prevent Disastrous Divorces” in Forbes, prenups are a wonderful way to protect each other from potentially making decisions in the future from a place of anger and resentment…Just like buying homeowner’s insurance to protect you financially if your house burns down, you hope you never need it.”

*The Wall Street Journal, January 21, 2020