Couples in Illinois who are in the 18-to-34 age group may be more likely to get a prenuptial agreement if they decide to get married than the same age group would have done in previous decades. While the American Association of Matrimonial Lawyers reports that there has been a surge in couples asking for prenuptial agreements, the jump in younger people asking for them is more recent.

One reason is that many millennials carry a significant amount of debt. Much of this debt is from student loans, and in 2017, the average college graduate had more than $38,000 in debt. People getting married are concerned that after a divorce, they will be responsible for part of the spouse’s debt, and a prenuptial agreement may be created to prevent this.

On the other hand, with millennials marrying later, some of them have acquired significant assets that they wish to protect. This could include real estate, stock options and 401(k)s. Prenups may also be more popular among millennials because they have a different attitude toward marriage compared to previous generations. Fewer than half of millennials in one survey said that marriage was a life goal. Another survey asked millennials if they would put marriage off for seven years if it means they could take a life-changing promotion. On average, they said yes.

Prenuptial agreements do not automatically protect against having to negotiate property division. It is important that the agreements are prepared correctly and that both people receive sufficient legal counsel. Prenups should be prepared and signed well before the marriage. If they are signed just before the marriage, it could suggest that one person was coerced into signing. Prenups should only cover matters relating to money and property division. If they move beyond that scope, such as addressing child custody, they might also be declared invalid.