How prenups have changed over time

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Sixty-two percent of attorneys polled in a recent survey conducted by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported that they have seen a significant increase in the number of clients seeking prenuptial agreements over the past several years.

Other reports indicate that the total number of prenups has increased fivefold over the past 20 years.

But today’s prenup is not necessarily the same as that of your parents’ generation. While many think of prenups as something that rich celebrities have to protect their millions against the possibility that their new spouse might be a gold-digger marrying for money and not for love, prenups these days — particularly among those of the “millennial” generation — serve an entirely different purpose.

For example, in today’s economy, a marrying spouse might be working for a start-up. While that person isn’t wealthy yet, he or she might have a stake in the business or stock options that could grow rapidly in the future. Such assets are hard to valuate in a divorce, so younger entrepreneurs may be including provisions in the prenup ensuring that these assets remain separate property or designating a specific valuation method to determine how much they’re worth in the event of a divorce.

Meanwhile, many younger people getting married these days are bringing significant debt into the marriage, including credit card debt, car loans and, most significantly, student debt. Accordingly, prenups are being used to insulate one spouse from the other spouse’s debt should the marriage not work out.

Finally, long-term economic fallout from the Great Recession has caused many millennials to delay marriage. By the time they tie the knot, they could be coming into their marriages further along in their careers than previous generations and, in some instances, with more assets to protect. They also may be more likely to consider a prenup if they grew up with divorced parents of their own, as is more likely the case with millennials than with prior generations.

As you can see, prenups are not just for celebrities and millionaires. If you’re getting married, you may have interests to protect that you’re not even aware of. A family law attorney can help you identify them.

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