Wednesday, 15 May 2013 00:00

Age and Gender Trends on Prenups

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A recent Forbes article noted changing dynamics of married couples’ finances. A growing number of wives are out-earning their husbands in dual-income households. While this is not the new norm, the occurrence is certainly increasing. High-income earners and high net-worth couples have unique considerations regarding their marriage. Prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can help address some of these considerations by safeguarding assets and avoiding significant hassle in the event of a divorce.

A Prenuptial Agreement is “an agreement between prospective spouses made in contemplation of marriage and to be effective upon marriage.” Cal. Fam. Code § 1610. Should a marriage end in divorce, a prenup allows for assets to be more easily distributed than in the absence of one. Under Cal. Fam. Code § 1612, a couple may contract to items such as the rights and obligations in property, insurance policies, and any other personal matters so long as it’s not a violation of public policy.

Postnuptial agreements are an option for couples who are already married. Postnups function similarly to prenups and, though not recognized by all states, are valid under California law.

Those entering into domestic partnerships may also enter into prenups and postnups under California law. 

So how do people feel about prenups? New polls show some interesting gender and age discrepancies of men and women’s views of these agreements. The results may be contrary to how prenups are typically viewed.

One poll showed that while men are more likely than women to view a prenup as unromantic (50% to 41%), more women would recommend a prenup to an engaged couple (62% to 54%). Some have suggested that prenups are sensible when considering the country’s divorce rate, which is roughly 50% for first marriages and higher for subsequent ones.

Age also plays a factor. About 60% of those aged 61 or older would recommend a prenup, compared with about half of those under 40 recommending one.

It seems as though those who would recommend a prenup view it as a smart way to protect the husband and wife’s financial interests in case of a divorce. Though the poll shows that prenups may be viewed as unromantic, they are a reasonable and an increasingly used tool to distinguish what property is jointly held and what is separate. Additionally, they can protect a couple from spending money litigating over who owns what. In support of prenups, Elizabeth Gilbert, bestselling author of Eat Pray Love, has said that, “Marriage is not just a love story but also a social and economical contract of the strictest order.”

A small amount of planning can go a long way should a marriage not work out. To make these agreements, an experienced family law attorney should be consulted.