Prenups Are on the Rise Among Millennials—Here’s Why

Millennials are taking a new approach to the prenup trend

Updated 12/05/17


We may say “till death do us part,” but we can’t ignore the fact that a lot of relationships don’t end up that way. We see divorce around us all the time, we know that it happens, and, somewhere, we know we should probably get a prenup...just in case. Historically, however, they haven’t been as popular as you might think. But millennials seem to be changing the game. Studies have shown that prenups have actually been on the rise in the last few years—and more women are asking for them. And at the risk of sounding like a total anti-romantic, I think that’s a great thing. Not because I think that every marriage is doomed to fail—far from it. But life makes you expect the unexpected, and we have to remember that you never know what’s going to happen. So why not be prepared?

And I’m not the only one. It turns out that actually quite a few people believe in prenups, at least in theory. A third of Americans say they makes sense, but under 5 percent actually have them.

So the real issue is that a lot of people think that prenups are a good idea—just not for them. They think that they are exempt, that their marriages are different. But my guess is that most people who eventually find out that they needed a prenup never thought it would come to that. You need to expect the unexpected, and more millennials seem to be getting that.

So why are we doing it more? Erica Bernstein, an associate at the Chicago-based law firm Berger Schatz, told PureWow that there were two big factors that explain why prenups are on the rise.

More Exposure to Divorce

No matter how romantic getting married can be, we can’t ignore what we see right in front of our faces. “More and more people are exposed to divorce proceedings—through a personal experience, through family or friends, or even through celebrities on TV,” Schatz told PureWow. “The more you hear about it, the more likely you are to think about what you would do in a similar situation.” Plus many of us, myself included, grew up with divorced parents—and maybe even watched them go through an acrimonious divorce (or two). We know how messy things can get. And if you’ve been through that as a child, there’s a good chance you’re going to want to protect yourself from having to go through it as an adult.

We’re Getting Married Later

Another reason why people might want a prenup is the fact that we’re holding off on getting married in the first place. “Studies show couples are getting married later in life,” Satch says. “This means prenups aren’t just for people protecting major inheritances anymore; they’re for people who’ve had meaningful careers before marriage and want to protect their business interests, condos they’ve purchased, assets they’ve accumulated, and more.” That makes total sense. If you’ve worked hard to get your life on track, and if you’ve been able to resist avocado toasts and have maybe even bought a house, then you’re going to want to protect those assets. And maybe being a bit older just makes us a little wiser too. Logic could just click in when you’re getting married in your 30s in a way it wouldn’t in your 20s.

Is It Right for You?

So, should you get one? I would encourage everyone to get a prenup. Seriously: everyone. And you may not think that they apply to you, but one of the most important things to remember about prenups is that they’re not a one-size-fits-all situation. Far from it. We usually think of prenups as being a way for incredibly wealthy people to protect their fortune against gold diggers—so many people would be offended if they were asked to sign one. But in reality, prenups can actually be used to protect the more financially vulnerable party—and they might be the best protection you get.

Think of it this way: You’re a woman who doesn’t have a lot of money and you marry into a wealthy family. Eventually you give up a career to take care of children, and by the time you get divorced, your career has been derailed and you haven’t amassed a personal wealth. If your partner’s family has a lot of money and feels litigious, they can do their best to drag things out in court so you don’t get a dime in a divorce. But a prenup can state that if you take time off to take care of children, you’re rewarded to reflect that. Taking care of kids is a job, and you can make sure that you get paid for it. It’s not just about protecting the fabulously wealthy—it’s about protecting you. That’s just one situation, but it can be tailored to fit whatever yours is.

I get it, if you’re getting married, thinking about a prenup is probably the least fun thing in the world. You want to be excited about planning your life together rather than preparing for its breakdown. But you never know where life is going to take you—and divorce can bring out a side of people that we don’t like to think about or even believe exists. Whether you’re rich or poor, have a lot to protect or are drowning in student loan debt, a prenup can give you security that you might not have otherwise. It’s an ugly truth but an important one.

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