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Buzzkill or just being practical? A look at the modern-day prenup

Prenuptial agreements are often associated with wealth.

When the 1% marry, they draw up contracts to protect the significant assets they have going into the marriage.

But in recent years, prenups have become more common, extending far beyond the super rich. In a 2016 survey, 62% of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers members said they had seen an increase in prenups. 51% of members observed an increase in millennials seeking prenups.

Explanations vary. Some attribute the increase to the people getting married older, and therefore having more to protect. Others cite spiking divorce rates, arguing that these lead people to enter into marriage expecting divorce.

KPCC listeners joined Kelly Chang Rickert, a certified family law specialist at Purpose Driven Lawyers in Pasadena, on AirTalk to discuss the modern-day prenup. Here are some of their stories:

Maria in Cypress still harbors resentment over a last-minute prenup

I got married in September just this last year. And three days before the wedding he pulled me aside and just kind of put [a prenup] on the table. I wanted to marry this man and I did. But it's still in the back of my mind. It really irritates me. I think it put a scratch on the relationship. I don't call it my house, I call it his house. Because he clearly put it that I could never take the house. 

I think if he would have more gently led up to it [it would have been easier], because it was very traumatizing. ... I was crying so much I couldn't read it. I signed it, and to this day I haven't read it. Because my expectation was never that I was going to take anything, I've always been self-sufficient. 

Jennifer in Costa Mesa said the prenup discussion can be a marker of character

I'm a single woman and I own my own home, so when a relationship becomes serious I make sure to have the conversation and tell my guy that I would want a prenup to protect my asset. And what's interesting is how he reacts is pretty revealing of his character and his feelings for me and his understanding for me and our relationship. 

The first person was upset and didn't handle it very well, and in my current relationship he's actually really proud of me. He knows that it makes sense on my end to do that and he doesn't feel at all defensive about it. I also showed him that the prenup will also state that I'm going to be responsible for finishing the paying of my student loans, so it's a two-way street. It's a beneficial thing for him too.

Emma in Laguna Beach didn't sign a prenup — to devastating consequences

I married back in 1974, and that was not a popular thing, to have prenups. [My husband] ran up enormous debt and he forged my signature through massive mortgages in the millions. Even though I won in U.S. federal court and proved everything, the money was off-shore. And yet the children and I lost absolutely everything. I ended up homeless with three children. 

In Jewish history and law they had the ketubah. And I think this is very similar to the ketubah. It makes sense. This is a legal matter, and no one should end up poor. 

Nanette in Northridge is happily married, and glad there's no prenup involved

I was shocked three months before the wedding that his father was pressuring him to get a prenup, because he had been through a disastrous divorce before. When my father found out about that he went through the roof and drafted a six-page prenup of his own of what a good husband does in a marriage to support a wife. My dad was just absolutely adamant that no way, which is how I felt.

My ground was knocked out from under me when he announced this prenup after we'd talked about it many times that we did not want one, feeling it was saying 'the marriage will likely fail.' And it has worked out fine for us, it actually made us communicate a little bit more upfront beforehand.

Click the blue button above to listen to the whole conversation. 

Answers have been edited for clarity. 

Guest:

Kelly Chang Rickert, certified family law specialist at Purpose Driven Lawyers in Pasadena