Money can't buy love, but our worries about having enough in the bank might be affecting the way we approach it.
More couples tying the knot are taking precautions to protect themselves financially. A September survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers found that 73 percent of divorce lawyers reported seeing an increase in demand for prenuptial agreements over the past five years.
"I have to believe that the recession has had an effect in that people's finances have been diminished," says Marlene Eskind Moses, president of the association and a Nashville lawyer who's been practicing family law for 30 years. "What they have takes on greater importance."
Moses says she's seen a big rise in requests for prenups among middle-class couples, not just those with substantial assets. Some people want to shield themselves from taking on a spouse's debt; others want to ensure that a pension plan remains in their name only.
Prenups may be growing more popular, but Moses says the conversations surrounding them are as touchy as ever. "It feels like you're trying to take away something from somebody, or you think the marriage is already gonna fall apart," she says, adding that she encourages her clients to think of it as "an estate planning opportunity."
Divorce isn't a big concern, however, for the growing number of Americans putting off marriage altogether. In 2000, 34.5 percent of 25-to-34-year-olds had never married; by 2009, that number jumped to 46.3 percent, according to a recent Census report.
Although marriage rates have dropped, more people are choosing to live together. Census takers found that the number of unmarried couples who shared a home rose 13 percent in the past year alone. And that, Moses says, explains the emergence and growing popularity of what she calls a "cohabitation agreement." These legally binding documents can cover everything from real estate agreements to "who takes out the garbage to the frequency of sex or not gaining weight."
10/21/2010, 8:59 PM