Why Many Millennials Are Getting Prenups (Hint: Not Because They’re Rich)

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Ever discussed (over a glass of wine or three) getting a prenuptial agreement with your future spouse?

It was probably at least a little uncomfortable, but having that conversation is more common than ever.

Millennials are notorious for putting marriage off until they’ve established a career or some semblance of financial security. But it also looks like many of them are tying the knot with an extra layer of financial security.

Jonnelle Marte of The Washington Post examined the trend of millennial prenups, citing recent data from divorce lawyers on the increasing frequency of millennial clients requesting prenups.  

Marte notes that prenuptial agreements have only recently come into vogue, with state acceptance of these documents coinciding with the rising divorce rate in the last 25 years.

But while the prenuptial agreements of the 1970s and 1980s protected one partner’s wealth from another (who probably stayed at home with the kids for the sake of tradition, cough), today’s prenups reflect the increasing amount of debt many of us carry from college into our 20s, 30s and beyond.

Some prenups don’t exist to protect either partner’s current net worth. Instead, they draw a clear line through debt repayment obligations and future business earnings.

Why Are Prenups up When the Divorce Rate Is Down?

Correlation and causation are not eternally tied, but hear me out on this one.

The divorce rate now is about 17 per 1,000 marriages per year, based on the latest Census Bureau data. That’s the lowest it’s been since the early 1970s. By 1975, there were 20.3 divorces for every 1,000 marriages. By 1980, the rate was up to 22.8 per 1,000.

Then, there was a slow decline before a brief spike during the Great Recession.

If you consider that the millennial generation began in 1982 and look at the divorce rate throughout the 80s, it all starts to make sense. A lot of millennial kids grew up with divorced parents.

Any kid who’s shuffled between mom’s place and dad’s place for a part of their childhood knows how divorce can wreck a family and its finances.

So can you blame millennials for waiting to get married? Can you blame them for playing it safe when making what’s supposed to be a lifelong legal commitment to another person?

They seem pretty smart to me.

How to Talk About Prenups Without Sounding Cold and Heartless

Among the many qualities millennials are known for is their openness in talking about finances. If you plan to tie the knot — or are just starting to get serious with someone special — it’s worth it to start talking about money.

Sharing your ideals about how you earn, manage and spend your own money can help you figure out the best way to do so as a couple and determine if a prenuptial agreement can put your joint financial future at ease.

If you have to uncork a bottle of wine to get through it, be my guest.

Lisa Rowan is a writer and producer at The Penny Hoarder. Her parents are divorced, if you couldn’t guess.