In the midst of the joy and excitement of planning a wedding, many couples are also increasingly taking the time to plan their marriage. Where, in decades past, discussions regarding prenuptial agreements carried negative connotations and were thought to be only reserved for marriages in which one spouse had significant wealth, a growing number of today’s couples are exploring the benefits of establishing premarital agreements before saying, “I do.”
Despite the benefits prenups offer, a relatively small percentage of marriages engage in legally binding contracts. That percentage was as low as 3% over a decade ago but has risen significantly to approximately 15% of new first-time marriages. This rise in the number of prenups is primarily being driven by a younger generation.
Why Do Couples Get a Prenup?
A prenuptial agreement, known legally in Colorado as a premarital agreement, is a document signed by both parties prior to a marriage that protects certain assets or debts from becoming legally shared property. If the couple later divorces, those assets outlined in the agreement are then exempt from the process of property division. In some cases, other stipulations can be preemptively outlined in a premarital agreement, saving the need for legal battles later in the event of a divorce.
Establishing and signing a premarital agreement, or prenup, can be a mutually beneficial process for both members of a marriage. There are a few primary benefits:
- Protecting assets within a marriage. What people likely associate with prenups, a premarital agreement establishes protections for personal assets, such as family inheritances, business interests, and even personal debt. Property outlined in a prenup will not become legally shared property during the marriage and cannot be divided among both spouses during a potential divorce.
- Avoiding disputes in divorce proceedings. One of the strongest arguments for having a prenup is for the singular benefit they offer during divorce proceedings. By establishing legal clarity on a number of issues prior to a divorce filing, many conflicts typically debated over later can be pre-established. By minimizing lengthy legal battles, couples can both save time, money, and emotional stress.
- Planning for financial security. Finally, prenups offer benefits to marriages beyond the contingency of divorce. Establishing a premarital agreement provides the opportunity for an engaged couple to thoroughly discuss and agree on issues of financial planning before getting married. This preemptive transparency can bring up important financial discussions early and even establish a framework for discussing important matters that strengthen and benefit the marriage in the long run.
How Many Couples Get Prenups?
A growing number of couples are engaging in premarital agreements. Over the last decade, the percentage of first-time marriages with legally enforceable prenups has risen significantly. This is, in part, in response to the decades-long statistics on divorce, as nearly half of all marriages have, on average, led to a divorce. Generations who have grown up watching this reality codified over and over may have come to dismiss the idealized assumptions of marriage and have instead learned to address the practical realities.
Of the marriages without prenups that do end in divorce, 60% of those surveyed report wishing they had established one prior. Despite the sharp increase in the percentage of couples that establish prenups, the percentage is still a relatively small amount at around 15%.
How Can Couples Get Prenups in Denver?
For individuals or couples considering premarital agreements who are not yet married, it is important to consult a family law attorney to discuss the process. Colorado law does not enforce verbal agreements, and a proper legal document must be drafted and signed by both parties to become legally binding. Once established, the premarital agreement goes into effect once the couple weds.
If you are already married, there are other options as well. While a premarital agreement is, by definition, a contract made prior to matrimony, Denver couples can create marital agreements, also known as postnups. Postnups are just as legally binding and address many of the same financial issues. If you are considering any kind of marital agreement, whether a pre or a postnup, talk to a Denver family law attorney like those at Woody Law Firm, LLC today.
Q: What Percent of Married Couples Have a Prenup?
A: As of 2022, approximately 15% of people responding to a survey of newly-married couples reported that they had signed a marriage agreement, with younger couples overwhelmingly skewing the statistics upward. In fact, 40% of those between the ages of 18 and 34 reported having considered and even negotiated a prenuptial agreement. Modern prenuptial agreements have largely lost any former stigma they once had and are becoming an increasingly common practice for couples.
Q: Do Prenups Work in Colorado?
A: Colorado has an established precedent for upholding premarital agreements in courts. Properly drawn up premarital agreements, if executed correctly, are legally binding documents in Colorado. Though they can be contested by either party, prenups have provided many couples in Colorado with the legal and financial protections they sought when drafting the agreement before they got married.
Q: Can You Get a Prenup After Marriage in Colorado?
A: Prenups, legally known as premarital agreements in Colorado, are by definition, agreements drafted before marriage. However, a couple can still add to, make changes to, or draft a completely new agreement after the marriage by creating a postnuptial agreement, known legally as simply a marital agreement. Provided they are not written in anticipation of a divorce, postnuptial agreements are just as legally binding in Colorado and will usually be enforced.
Q: Do People With Prenups Have a Higher Rate of Divorce?
A: For the last decade, the divorce rate among first-time marriages has hovered between 40-50%. While there have been no significant studies conducted to provide divorce statistics exclusively among couples with prenups, there is good reason to suggest that there is little to no difference in rate when comparing couples with and without a prenup. Premarital agreements are instead primarily aimed at protecting individuals in the event of a divorce rather than protecting a marriage from one.
There are many reasons to establish a premarital agreement, whether you want to protect family assets, mitigate future stress in the event of a divorce, or establish strong financial security and a foundation of communication early on. To get started or to ask questions regarding prenups, postnups, or other areas of family law, contact our office today.