More Women Say 'I Do' to Prenups

More women are seeking prenups to protect retirement benefits.

ByABC News
April 26, 2010, 4:05 PM

Sept. 27, 2010 — -- At 23 years old, Kristi fell in love and married a young med student. He suffered a traumatic brain injury three months later and after less than a year of marriage, Kristi filed for divorce.

Her in-laws targeted her wallet, suing the teacher for alimony and interest earned on retirement funds, stock, and her personal savings account.

That was seven years ago, back when a prenuptial agreement didn't seem necessary. Now, she says, "I feel like the cost of my successes as a single woman is worth a lot more to me now than they were at 23. I also learned the hard way that you can't control life. You can only control yourself."

For at least half of the population, matrimony doesn't come with a happily ever after. And, when it's time to determine who gets the castle and the dowry, it's up to the judge to dictate how to spread the wealth. Unless your finances are protected with a prenup.

In the last five years, more divorce attorneys reported a spike in requests for prenuptials agreements. In a poll, 73 percent of the 1,600 attorneys that are members of the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers reported an increase in the contractual documents that specify how marital assets should be divided should a divorce happen. And, 36 percent of attorneys saw a rise in the inclusion of pensions and retirement funds in prenups.

"Oftentimes pension and retirement funds are the parties' biggest assets and they can be substantial and people want to protect them when they're entering into another marriage or a marriage," says Marlene Eskind Moses, president of American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers.

The bottom line is that more couples no longer want to face the risk of losing retirement funds if relationships don't work out.

Prenups can also be loaded with emotional considerations -- men might see them as a business decision, while many women believe that planning the results of a divorce questions the longevity of a relationship.

"People recognize it's not just for the rich and famous but it's important for people for a multitude of reasons. It could be important to protect a spouse in the marriage if the spouse entering in the marriage has lack of debt," says Moses.