The Rise of Prenups in Gen Z and Millennials
Wenup, an online provider of collaborative and amicable prenups, recently conducted an extensive analysis of its first 120 customers, revealing a significant surge in the importance placed on prenuptial agreements among those born between 1997-2012 (Gen Z) and 1981-1996 (Millennials). This trend marks a notable departure from previous generations, such as the baby boomers, indicating a shift in modern couples’ approach to marriage.
In recent years, prenuptial agreements have undergone a remarkable transformation, evolving from a once hushed topic to a widely accepted practice, especially among younger generations such as Gen Z and Millennials. This subtle yet significant change in societal norms is evident in the UK, where these agreements have become common conversation starters among couples, marking a departure from previous generations’ hesitations.
Surprising statistics now reveal that 1 in 5 marriages in the UK commences with a prenup, emphasising their growing acceptance in contemporary relationships. This trend is particularly embraced by Gen Z, born between 1997 and 2012, and their slightly older counterparts, the millennials, born between 1981 and 1996. Within these age groups, prenuptial agreements have transformed into thoughtful discussions, signifying a mature understanding of financial planning and security within relationships.
A 2021 survey conducted by Savanta ComRes for Marriage Foundation shed light on this shift, revealing a substantial increase in the prevalence of prenups among first weddings since the 2000s. Unlike in previous decades, discussing prenups is no longer considered taboo, dispelling the fear that these agreements might harm relationships. Research from the Marriage Foundation debunked the myth that prenups lead to higher divorce rates, showing no correlation between prenuptial agreements and divorce among the 2000 adults surveyed.
Several factors are driving this change in attitude among Gen Z and millennials:
1. Influence of the ‘Baby Boomer’ Generation:
Gen Z finds themselves in a unique position, bridging the gap between the influence of both their ‘baby boomer’ grandparents and their millennial parents, who are reshaping societal norms. They have observed the financial complexities arising from their ‘baby boomer’ grandparents’ divorces and, simultaneously, have seen their millennial parents usher in a new way of approaching relationships, having also experienced first-hand their parents’ relationships coming to an end.
Armed with these diverse influences, they enter marriage with a clear financial strategy, determined to sidestep costly and acrimonious divorces, which can cost anywhere up to £30,000. Both Millennials and Gen Z generations prioritise mature conversations about finances, laying down a healthy foundation for long lasting relationships. This blend of generational wisdom and modern insights equips them with the tools to navigate marital challenges while safeguarding their financial futures.
3. Getting Married Later in Life:
Since the 1970’s, the average age at which people in the UK get married has been steadily increasing. The UK 2021 census reported the average median age at marriage for opposite-sex couples in 2019 was 34.3 years for men and 32.3 years for women; for same-sex couples this was higher at 38.1 years for men and 33.8 years for women.
The development of Millennials and Gen Z marrying later in life has brought about a shift in the way couples manage their finances within marriage. Unlike their predecessors, who often embarked on marriage with shared resources acquired early in their relationships, these younger generations are entering marriage with well-established individual financial portfolios. With the opportunity for both partners to accumulate personal assets, investments, and even businesses before combining their lives. Consequently, the concept of an equal 50/50 split of assets, once commonplace in marriage, may not always be the fairest option.
Wenup’s analysis of its initial 120 customers provides interesting insights into modern marriage trends. Despite the majority falling within the Millennial age range, specifically between 30 and 40, the average age of Wenup’s customers stands at approximately 40. This diverse clientele ranges from individuals in their 20s to those in more mature stages of life, highlighting the varied life experiences of Wenup’s customers and emphasising the evolving attitudes toward marriage and financial planning across different age demographics.
As the stigma around prenuptial agreements dissipates, more couples are embracing them as practical tools for financial planning. Instead of focusing solely on division, prenups create a safe space for couples to openly discuss their expectations, investment strategies, and long-term goals. Approached with care and respect, this level of communication not only strengthens the relationship but also ensures that both partners are on the same page regarding their financial future together, providing a sense of security and peace of mind to both parties.
3. Career Mindset:
There has been a significant change in the priorities of Gen Z and Millennials. The pursuit of education and career opportunities has taken precedence over early marriage, reflecting a broader trend toward personal growth and financial stability. According to the Higher Education Statistics Agency, the total number of higher education students stood at 2,751,865 in 2020/21, an increase of 9% from 2019/20. The count of first-year postgraduate students increased by 16%, whereas the count of first-degree entrants increased by 8%.
This delay in marriage is often attributed to the desire to invest in education and establish a solid career foundation. Millennials and Gen Z are more likely to pursue higher education, the cost of which has skyrocketed, leaving many saddled with substantial student loan debts.Simultaneously, they are also accumulating individual assets, such as properties, investments, and businesses.
Last year millennials set up 49% of all new UK businesses. As a result, the complexities of these financial landscapes have made prenuptial agreements not only practical but essential for protecting both parties’ interests. These legal documents outline not only the division of assets but also address the division of debts, ensuring that neither partner is burdened with the other’s financial obligations in the event of a divorce. The rise in the popularity of prenups aligns with the changing attitudes toward marriage and reflects a generation that values financial transparency and independence.
Wenup’s data provides compelling insights into the changing landscape of modern relationships. By focusing on education, careers, and personal goals before marriage, Gen Z and Millennials are not only shaping their individual futures but also redefining the dynamics of relationships. Prenuptial agreements have become a pragmatic tool, allowing couples to enter into marriages with confidence, knowing that their financial interests are safeguarded. This approach enables them to concentrate on building a strong, supportive partnership based on shared goals and mutual respect.
4. Accessibility and Affordability:
Contrary to the outdated belief that prenuptial agreements were limited to the wealthy elite, these legal arrangements have evolved to be inclusive, embracing a diverse range of individuals and breaking free from their old stereotypes. This inclusivity is largely attributed to the rise of user-friendly platforms and services that have simplified the process. Data from Wenup’s initial 120 customers highlights this change, revealing that only 2% fit the HMRC definition of ‘High Net Worth.’ This statistic emphasises how prenuptial agreements have become accessible to couples from various financial backgrounds, marking a significant departure from the past perceptions.
The convenience offered by platforms like Wenup play a crucial role in encouraging couples to initiate early conversations about their finances. By providing a structured framework and addressing potential concerns, these tools enable open and transparent conversations between partners. Engaging in such conversations before marriage nurtures trust and strengthens the foundation of the relationship, allowing couples to move forward with confidence.
The affordability of prenups has removed a significant barrier that previously discouraged many couples from considering prenuptial agreements. As these services become more cost-effective, an increasing number of couples are recognising the value of these agreements in ensuring their financial wellbeing as a couple and supporting responsible financial planning. It has encouraged couples, including those in the Gen Z and Millennial age bracket, to proactively engage in discussions about their future. By providing a practical means to safe-guard individual and shared assets, platforms like Wenup are contributing to the formation of stable, balanced, and financially secure relationships, assuring couples can navigate their shared lives with peace of mind.
In the ever-changing landscape of relationships, prenuptial agreements have evolved from a once-taboo topic to an important tool embraced by Gen Z and Millennials. Influenced by a blend of intergenerational wisdom and a focus on open financial conversations, couples now enter marriages later in life with established financial foundations. Wenup’s data is evidence of the inclusivity of prenuptial agreements, now accessible to couples from diverse backgrounds, marking a departure from past perceptions. This transformation signifies more than just financial security; it represents a shift toward enduring relationships. Couples can navigate their shared lives with peace of mind, grounded in trust, transparency, and mutual respect, nurturing relationships built on a strong foundation of understanding and collaboration.