California millennials are more likely to seek prenuptial agreements prior to marriage than previous generations. While prenuptial agreements are on the rise throughout all age groups, it is only more recently that the 18-to-34 age group has represented a significant trend in this area.
There are several reasons a millennial spouse might want a prenup. Many are carrying significant debt, particularly student loan debt. In a divorce, a former spouse could end up responsible for a portion of the other spouse’s debt. On the other hand, many millennials are bringing significant assets into marriage. On average, millennials are marrying a few years later than in previous decades, and this is giving them more time to accumulate assets such as 401(k)s, stocks and even real estate. Having struggled through the recession and a difficult job market, they tend to be very protective of these assets and do not want to risk losing them in a divorce.
Millennials also simply do not place as high a premium on marriage as previous generations did. One survey found that fewer than half of millennials see marriage as a life goal. Another asked millennials if they would delay getting married for seven years if it meant a significant promotion; the average respondent said they would.
However, a prenuptial agreement is no guarantee of a trouble-free divorce. It must be prepared correctly. A spouse who feels they had insufficient legal counsel could challenge a prenup. Even with a prenup in place, a couple with children must also negotiate child custody and visitation or go to court where a judge will make a decision. This process may be even more difficult and emotional than negotiating property division since it forces parents to confront the fact that they will be spending less time with their children.