I want a prenup: It’s happening more often, lawyers say
Should their marriage end in divorce, a growing number of New Jersey couples may know exactly which assets they'll be walking away with.
Despite their negative connotation, more soon-to-be-married couples are filing prenuptial agreements, according to family law attorney Jennifer Millner with Fox Rothschild in Princeton.
"The most common is when you have second marriages," Millner said. "People have already gone through a divorce and they don't want the uncertainty of having a judge decide their fate."
Many cases involve the age-old situation where one party is coming into a marriage with a very comfy financial cushion, or it's expected one will inherit a substantial amount of money at some point over the course of the marriage.
But a number of economic and societal factors are at play for a more recent spike in the number of prenups, according to Millner.
"We're seeing a lot of people get married a little bit later in life," said Millner, who's been working in the field for nearly 30 years. "Now you have people who have been entrenched in their careers, they've established retirement plans."
Prenups also serve as a level of protection in a relationship where one party is saddled with an overwhelming amount of student loan debt, she said. The non-debt-ridden party may want to make sure that debt doesn't follow them down the road. And if they help their spouse with payments during the course of the marriage, a prenuptial agreement could ensure they're reimbursed should the relationship go sour.
Millner's office certainly isn't the only noticing and following this trend. In a late 2016 survey from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers, 62 percent of attorney cited an increase in the total number of clients seeking prenups over the previous three years.
Dr. Stacey Rose, a psychotherapist and owner of the Rose Relationship Learning Center in Ocean Township, said the proposal of a prenup still "feels like a threat" to individuals, especially when there's a sizeable imbalance in finances. In any event, it's odd to discuss divorce with your lover before exchanging vows.
"I do think that the more prepared and the more clear things are at the beginning of a relationship or a long-term marriage — hopefully a lifetime marriage — the easier it would be if that couple does decide to part ways," Rose said.
Rose said engaged couples spend a lot of time and effort preparing for one day — the wedding — but tend to put off preparing for the actual marriage.
Millner's been front and center for plenty of drama between couples who can't agree on terms or whether a prenup should be filed in the first place. In some instances, couples have called off their wedding.
"People have to remember it's simply business," Millner said. "That's the only way to get through these types of conversations."