Prenuptial agreements are becoming more and more common, and are being used more frequently by marrying couples, according to a recent article. According to the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers (AAML), 62% of family law lawyers saw significant increases in clients seeking help in drafting or negotiating prenuptial agreements.
The largest increase is among millennials—those born between 1981 and 1996, and who are being married for the first time. One cause for the increase in the use of premarital agreements is that people, especially millennials, are waiting longer to get married. As a result, they have accumulated more wealth, and larger amounts of assets, before they marry, and are seeking to protect what they have acquired pre-marriage.
Women are on the Rise and Have Greater Awareness
Millennial women are also achieving more professionally than prior generations, and contribute more to family income than previous generations. The Pew Research Center reports that 72% of millennial women are employed. As a result, the AAML also reported that 45% of its attorneys noticed greater amounts of women paying alimony to men after a divorce, a statistic that could also lead to the increase in the usage of prenuptial agreements.
Many millennials were teenagers during the great recession of the late 2000s, and have a greater awareness of protecting assets. Now successfully employed on their own, many have started their own businesses or have been given stock options as compensation, both assets that tend to be divided up in a divorce absent a prenuptial agreement.
Do Not Use Forms
In New Jersey, a good prenuptial agreement can be especially important because New Jersey is an equitable distribution state. This means that marital property is not just automatically divided 50-50, but will be divided based on what is fair, and on how much of the marital assets contributed to the growth, or increase in value of marital property.
Couples should not use a “do it yourself” prenuptial agreement, as many of them may be tailored to “community property” states, which use different rules to divide marital property when divorcing.
Full Disclosure is Required
Although it can be uncomfortable to talk about a prenuptial agreement (after all, who wants to prepare for the worst when expecting only the best), it is important to be open and honest about expectations should the marriage dissolve.
Both couples will have to openly disclose all of their assets and property to the other (likely in the form of a financial affidavit, and by disclosing certain financial documents), which can seem intrusive or invasive, but which are necessary to form an enforceable and binding agreement.
Couples should not wait until the last minute. The farther before the wedding date that the agreement is negotiated and signed, the better and more enforceable it will be. This gives both couples time to seek legal help, and avoids the pressure that comes as the wedding date approaches.
Get individual attention when drafting or reviewing a prenuptial agreement. Contact The Law Office of Agnes Rybar LLC for help and guidance in your family law case.