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Why young people need prenuptial agreements

Family law attorneys have found that more millennials are getting prenuptial agreements than ever. One divorce attorney who has seen this increase firsthand says, "Couples have a more protective attitude to preserving assets that they've accumulated on their own." Even if at this point in their lives they have more debt than assets, "they're thinking forward."

Perhaps it's because many millennials have seen their parents -- or friends' parents -- go through nasty divorces. It could be because prenups have become increasingly common for everyone, and not just the rich and famous or those with hefty trust funds.

Even if neither of the partners has many assets when they marry, that can change. One can end up significantly outearning the other. It's often much easier to have a prenup in place before that happens than to talk your spouse into a postnuptial agreement later.

The prenup can protect the spouse with fewer assets every bit as much, if not more, than the other one. If one spouse decides to take time out of the workforce to raise children, it can be a lengthy and difficult process to get back to earning what you would be if you hadn't taken that break. As another attorney points out, "A prenup is actually very important for the less-wealthy partner, because they will have more catching up to do financially if the marriage doesn't work out."

Broaching the subject of a prenup is often difficult. Trust issues can rear their head. No one wants to contemplate the possible demise of their marriage while they're making the guest list for their wedding. However, one attorney compares prenups to seatbelts. "You don't expect the car to crash, but if it does, you'll be glad that protection is there."

Developing a prenup also gives couples a good opportunity to talk about money -- their attitudes toward spending and saving and their goals for the future. Differences in these attitudes and goals have led to the end of many marriages because couples didn't realize that they weren't on the same page until their money was commingled.

Taking time to draft a prenup that both partners are comfortable with is key. No one should be hurried or coerced into signing one, and both people should have their own attorney looking out for their interests. This can help ensure that if it's ever needed, it will hold up in court.

Source: Refinery29, "What Every 20-Something Woman Should Know About Prenups," Paige Brettingen, accessed March 24, 2017

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