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Student loans linked to surge in prenuptial agreements

Prenuptial agreements have become far more common in Michigan and around the country in recent years according to a 2016 survey from the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. The association's members say that requests for prenuptial agreements have increased by 61 percent over the last three years, but they also point out that the reasons given by couples for wanting one have changed.

Prenuptial agreements gained popularity in the 1970s when the nation's divorce rate was approaching its zenith. These agreements have generally been entered into when one spouse has far more in the way of income and assets than the other, but the data suggests that many millennial couples today are asking for a prenuptial agreement because of concerns over student loans or other debts. The number of couples carrying student debt increased from 17 percent in 1989 to 41 percent in 2013, and students who graduated in 2015 left school with an average of $30,100 in educational loans.

Prenuptial agreements are also growing in popularity because people are waiting longer to get married and have more assets to protect when they do decide to walk down the aisle. In the 1970s, eight out of 10 Americans were married by the age of 30. In 2015, that milestone was not reached until the age of 45.

Experienced family law attorneys might suggest prenuptial or postnuptial agreements in certain situations, but they could also remind their clients that these documents can sometimes be difficult to enforce. Judges may rule prenuptial agreements invalid if evidence emerges that they were signed under duress, and they could also refuse to enforce agreements that are overtly unfair to one of the parties involved. This is why it is advisable for each party to have separate legal representation during the process.

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