Prenup Observations: Age, Opposite versus Same Sax Couples and Other Factors

I have been practicing family law for over 23 years at the time of writing of this post. I have seen older people get divorced throughout my career, but more recently in the last decade. I find this particularly in the many pension plan division cases.

Public sector workers have lucrative pensions, and a divorcing spouse can count on an income flow for the rest of their lives that is paid directly to him/her, without having to chase down their former spouse. Add to this the fact that huge part of the overall population is at retiring/near retirement age, and you have a lot of divorces.

A funny/sad anecdote from about 12 years ago: I asked a client in his 80’s why he wants to go through divorce now and he answered, because I want to die happy. Whether this is a widely shared sentiment or not, everyone is noticing this older generation retiring. They often have a number of assets, and are seeing longer and more expensive divorces. Perhaps that explains the jump in prenups.

A premarital agreement, colloquially called a prenuptial agreement or prenup for short, is a contract between soon-to-be spouses that sets terms in the event of divorce and death. I do a good number of prenuptial agreements (premarital agreements) and in the last 5-6 years I’ve seen a spike in young folks getting them.

I put the new prenup cases into three (3) categories. One, people that have seen their parents go through nasty divorce. Two, individuals with a lot of family money. Three, same-sex couples, but younger for female couples.

Same-sex males tend to marry with a disparity of ages. This bears out in our census. An older spouse is more likely to have had a family or had acquired assets or debts. It makes sense that one wants to protect assets or be protected from another’s preexisting obligations.

Younger same-sex couples are probably in category one, seeing their elders go through divorce. The folks with family wealth, regardless of their gender or who they want to marry, are often influenced (without a negative connotation) by their family advisers to protect what is considered more of a family enterprise than an individual’s assets.

Finally, immigration plays a role. I handle immigration cases too and have had many involving both, immigration and divorce. In these scenarios, there may be an element of fear that the person you are marrying is in large measure looking for a green card. I say this speculatively only, of course.

The common thread is that in the face of an increased divorce rate, people want to simplify the eventuality of their divorce and protect from their past or an uncertain future. Like a will, a prenup is a way to minimize court in the event of divorce, or even death while married. Neither is romantic, but thinking about divorce, like death, never is, yet it is advisable.

The only advice for anyone considering marriage is get some, advice that is, so  you know your options and make an informed decision.

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