And when these millenials reach the point of considering or entering into marriages, similarly, their Outlook calendars will overflow with appointments to meet financial planners, jewelers, wedding planners and realtors in order to paint the perfect picture for their impending nuptials.
Yet, despite the incessant need to sculpt every aspect of their lives into the perfect mold, one topic of planning remains taboo: planning for divorce.
For most, the concept of planning for a divorce at a time when it seems so natural to be focused on the positive seems somewhat uncivilized. But when considering the legal and financial implications of marriage, proposing the idea of a prenuptial agreement may be nothing more than a practicality.
The concept of contracting marriages is one that dates back over 2,000 years. Although "prenups," as they are best known, are commonly associated with more affluent parties or marriages in which there exists a large income disparity between the parties, in fact the benefit of contracting with regard to separate and marital property prior to marriage affects all walks of life.
With the divorce rate not only rising, but also correlating so strongly with financial climate of a marriage, taking those potential arguments off the table may in fact alleviate certain stresses that plague dual-income couples who are at the prime age for asset development and growth.
To better understand the demise of marriage, as it relates to marital finances, it is first important to understand the complexities of our ever-changing gender roles within society.
According to our most recent census, 93 percent of households in the United States are dual-income households. This means that even if these households are not considered "high net worth," their financial portfolios are likely somewhat complex. The more complex a couple's finances are the more complex (and, in turn, expensive) an eventual divorce becomes.
You see, young professionals in their twenties and thirties who steadily build financial portfolios through pensions, annuities, IRA's and 401K's, are the same individuals who may not completely comprehend the risk of loss in the event of a divorce.
It is likely that because the maturity of these assets may seem a lifetime away, the parties see them as less concrete. However, in the event of a divorce, even where these assets have not yet vested, it is likely that your spouse would be entitled to an ownership interest in those investments.
This means that in the event of a divorce, those assets would be scrutinized, valued and divided pursuant to New York law, rather than the by desires of the parties. This simply leads to high legal fees, personal days to attend court appearances and years (yes, years!) of headaches before your divorce is finalized.
One of my firm's more recent matters involved a dispute over the value of a business started by the husband during the course of the marriage. Despite the fact that the business only brought in a net income of $12,000 per year, the disagreement between the parties forced a judge to order that the business be valued.
The parties are now scrambling to sell personal property in order to pay a forensic accountant, and after the lengthy and costly process, no outcome is certain. The only thing that is for certain is that this couple will spend more money on valuing the business than it will earn them this year.
Gone are the days in which only the rich and famous are in need of a prenuptial agreement. Today, it is important to be proactive. As my mother always says, hindsight is 20/20. However, some mistakes are more detrimental than others.
So, as you plan ahead for your many successes think about the need to plan for the "what ifs." I could go on in detail about all the information I wish the average person knew before getting married (and surely before getting divorced), but for the purposes of this column, I urge you to keep an open mind when it comes to considering a prenuptial agreement. It just may make your marriage stronger.