The millennial generation—the subset of the population born between 1981 and 1997—is approaching marriage differently than in previous generations. It’s preparing for the possibility of divorce.
Recent years have seen a spike in prenuptial agreements among millennials. A prenuptial agreement (commonly called a prenup) is a contract made by a couple prior to getting married which lays out the specifics of property division and financial responsibility in the event that the marriage fails.
In previous generations, many people believed a prenup to be an ugly subject to raise prior to getting married—holding that marriage is a life-long commitment and should not be treated as temporary. However, a prenup also offers practical advantages to the members of a couple. It can safeguard the investments, property and retirement accounts of each party. In addition, it can protect one person from inheriting the financial debt of their spouse.
So why are millennials seeking out prenups more than any other generation?
Millennials joined the work force during the Great Recession. They’ve faced a difficult job market and have lower income and fewer opportunities for promotion than in previous generations. They’ve had their fair share of financial strains. Underemployment is prevalent among millennials. Student loan debt is also at an all-time high among this group.
Consequently, a high number of millennials are willing to prioritize career advancement over other life goals. Nearly three-quarters of millennials are willing to delay getting married or having children in order to relocate for their career. As a result, millennials are getting married later on—at a time in their lives when they have more assets worth protecting.
In addition, many millennials are the children of divorce—growing up in an era when divorce was commonplace. More than any other generation, millennials have dated and found their partners through impersonal dating apps, such as Tinder. Some experts have suggested that because of these factors, millennials don’t romanticize marriage in the same way as before, but rather view it with a business mindset.
Regardless of a couple’s age, many financial advisors recommend prenuptial agreements anytime there is an accumulation of wealth.