How Many Marriages Have Prenups: 7% & 62% Negative (Stats for Every State)

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Background Checks | May 29, 2024

How many marriages have prenups a newlywed couple standing on the left with a question mark over their head wonders while the prenuptial agreement on the left shows a certification with a gavel underneath it.

With the United States among the countries with the highest divorce rates and the cost of divorce proceedings reaching an all-time high, more and more people wonder, how many marriages have prenups?

Is it really 7 percent, or is the number higher? And, do nearly two-thirds of people see them as a “negative” before the marriage even starts?

Yes. But, that doesn’t tell the entire story.

The idea of protecting personal property that won’t become ‘joint’ assets is attractive to many people. Premarital agreements, also called prenuptial agreements, can be a valuable tool for couples embarking upon marriage, and it is why many newlyweds run a partners’s background screening before tying the knot.

But some statistics suggest that more than half the population feels that a prenuptial agreement carries a negative connotation.28

This article explores the potential advantages and disadvantages of getting a prenuptial agreement. Read on to find out how many marriages have prenups and when and why a premarital agreement might be advisable.

Prenups: Good or Bad?

With nearly 50% of all marriages ending in divorce, the question of whether to get a prenuptial agreement is more important than ever.39 Yet, it seems that perceptions of prenuptial agreements are still mixed.

A 2003 publication in The Harvard Gazette reported a law student’s findings when researching prenuptial agreements. The study found that even though most individuals were able to approximate the high national divorce rate, fewer than 12% of individuals polled believed that divorce was a potentiality for their marriage and fewer than 5% had prenups in place.

Furthermore, an average of 62% of persons polled (including laypersons and law students) felt that a partner asking for a prenuptial agreement was a bad indicator of the health and duration of the marriage and potentially even a predictor of divorce!29

This is just one side of the story, however. As much as 15% of divorced persons indicate that they regret not having a prenuptial agreement in place before getting married.39 In a more recent survey of divorce attorneys, 62% reported an increase in requests for prenups and 51% indicated that prenuptial agreements were on the rise with millennials.40

In general, millennials appear to be waiting longer to marry and are entering into marriages with more to offer, or in other words, more to protect or insure. Perhaps the perception of prenuptial agreements is changing.

What Is a Prenup?

Prenup is a shortened term for a prenuptial agreement, often used interchangeably with premarital agreement. A prenuptial agreement is a legal contract between two individuals planning to enter into marriage.20

The contract may detail the financial assets or debts that each individual brings to the marriage, as well as the financial responsibilities of each party and what happens to assets and marital property in the event of divorce or even death.26

Prenups have been used and accepted as binding legal contracts since the 1980s but historically have been viewed as exclusive to wealthy or high-profile individuals and couples.28

A prenuptial agreement, when executed properly, can help protect the financial interests of both marital parties and their children. A properly developed prenup is characterized by the following:

  • Legal counsel for both parties
  • Written documentation of the contract
  • Consideration of all financial assets and liabilities
  • Absence of non-financial marital stipulations

How Much Do Prenups Cost?

As with most anything, the price of a prenuptial agreement depends on many factors, such as:

  • The state, city, or area in which the couple lives
  • The status and reputation of the lawyer hired to draft the agreement
  • The complexity of the finances being arranged
    • Whether children from prior marriages are a factor
    • If there are significant debts
  • If multiple lawyers are being retained

The variables listed above significantly impact the price of the prenuptial agreement, as many lawyers charge a flat rate for a draft, compounded by an hourly rate for further negotiations. While some sources indicate that having a prenup drafted by an experienced lawyer can be expected to cost on average $750, others suggest that this number is more of a starting point.4 More complicated premarital agreements can cost upwards of $10,000.20

Some websites offer prenuptial agreement services, but there is a higher risk of the contract not holding up in court without in-person legal counsel.

The table below provides a sampling of prenup pricing estimates across the United States.

How Much Do Prenups Cost by State?Total Cost
California$2,000 – $6,00011
Florida$1,200 – $1,5001
Maryland$1,200 – $2,50012
Michigan$1,200 – $2,4002
New York$3,000 – $3,50027
Pennsylvania$1,200 – $2,5003
Washington$2,500 – $3,00031

The numbers in this table are general estimates and reflect starting costs for simple contracts.

What Are the Pros and Cons of Prenup?

Any person wondering how many marriages have prenups is likely also curious about the possible advantages and disadvantages of getting a prenuptial agreement. In this section, learn all about the pros and cons of prenuptial agreements to assist with making informed decisions.

There are many people who are proponents of premarital agreements and some who would even advocate for making prenups mandatory for all prospective spouses.28 There are many benefits to a prenuptial agreement, and here is the shortlist:18,22

  • Developing premarital agreements together prior to marriage can open the door for honest communication.
  • Learning how to talk about difficult themes early on can strengthen a marriage later.
  • Financial issues inevitably arise in any marriage, and a prenup sidesteps the strain of not knowing how these will be dealt with.
  • Drafting a premarital agreement before marriage is often much cheaper than working out financial issues in divorce court.
  • Prenups can provide protection for both parties, as well as any children from previous marriages.
  • A prenuptial agreement can be modified or withdrawn after marriage if both spouses so desire.

Getting a prenuptial agreement drafted before marriage is more widely accepted today than it was twenty years ago, but there are still relatively few couples who do it. Although a prenup is a useful tool in any marriage, it is particularly helpful in situations where:20,26

  • One person has significantly more wealth or assets than the other.
  • One or both individuals have significant debt or liabilities.
  • One or both individuals have children from a previous relationship.
  • One or both individuals are business owners.
  • One individual plans to quit work to raise children.

Though the benefits of prenups are numerous, there are also a few potential pitfalls. Some of these are listed here.8,22

  • Paying for a prenuptial agreement can create financial strain before marriage is officially sealed.
  • As many as 62% of individuals feel that a partner’s request for a prenup reflects negatively on the trajectory/outcome of the marriage.
  • If both parties are not equally invested in the idea of a prenuptial agreement, one party may feel hurt or offended.
  • A prenuptial agreement can reinforce an already imbalanced distribution of power.
  • Prenuptial agreements do not always hold up in a court of law.
  • A less assertive partner may not be evenly represented in a premarital contract.
  • A coercive prenup will likely lead to resentment down the road.

View the summarized pros and cons in the following table.

Pros of PrenupsCons of Prenups
Establishes a pattern of honest and healthy communicationCan be very costly, creating an unwanted financial burden before marriage.
Helps couples learn to navigate difficult financial conversations early in the relationshipMay create or exacerbate a strain on the relationship
Allow couples to outline in advance how financial questions will be addressedCan create or perpetuate an imbalance of power in the relationship
Typically costs significantly less than settling financial matters in divorce courtDo not always hold up in a court of law
Provide financial security for both parties and any children from prior relationships.Do not necessarily represent both parties equally
Able to be modified or withdrawn with both parties’ permission at a later timeMay be coercive in nature
May reveal latent issues within the relationship that can create more tension down the roadOften perceived as reflecting negatively upon the future of the marriage by the partner who did not broach the idea

How Many Marriages Have Prenups by State?

Curious about how many marriages have prenups? Well, interest in prenups has been gradually growing over the last 30 or so years, and more individuals are expressing willingness to get a prenup.10 However, the number of individuals who actually get the prenup is still relatively small, with several outlets estimating five to ten percent or about seven percent on average.29

Still wondering how many marriages have prenups in each state? While the rate of prenups has increased dramatically at a national level in the last couple of decades, there is, unfortunately, no available information on how these numbers reflect at the state level.

However, anyone can learn to search for a divorce date freely online by searching their local court site.

Prenup Laws by State

State laws regarding prenuptial agreements and marriages, in general, tend to vary quite a bit, and individuals often want to know about these laws prior to entering into a marriage. What happens to property acquired during the marriage if the couple divorces? What happens to those retirement savings? Much of this depends on where the couple lives.10

More than half of the states in the U.S. have adopted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act which was designed to create a multi-state standard for prenups.35 Many state governments have modified the UPAA for their state, and many more states have developed entirely separate laws on prenuptial agreements.5

Find links to each state’s prenup law in the following table.

What Is the Prenuptial Agreement Law in Each State?State Prenup Laws
AlabamaNo specific law available.
AlaskaAlaska Court System Self-Help Center: Family Law
ArizonaARS 25-202 Enforcement of Premarital Agreements*
ArkansasAR Code §9-11-40116*
CaliforniaCalifornia Uniform Premarital Agreement Act*
ColoradoColorado Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act*
ConnecticutPremarital (Antenuptial) and Postnuptial Agreements in Connecticut*
DelawareDelaware Title 13 § 321*
Florida2012 Florida Statutes – Title VI Chapter 61 Section 079*
GeorgiaO.C.G.A. § 19-3-6214
HawaiiHawaii Uniform Premarital Agreement Act*
IdahoIdaho Legislature §32-922*
IllinoisIllinois Uniform Premarital Agreement Act*
IndianaIndiana Uniform Premarital Agreement Act *
IowaIowa Uniform Premarital Agreement Act*
KansasKansas Uniform Premarital Agreement Act15*
KentuckyNo specific law available.
LouisianaLouisiana Legislature Article 2331
MaineMaine Uniform Premarital Agreement Act*
MarylandMaryland Family Law § 3-103
MassachusettsMassachusetts General Laws §3-209-25
MichiganMichigan Legislature §600.5071
MinnesotaMinnesota Statutes §519.11
MississippiMississippi Uniform Premarital Agreement Act
MissouriMissouri Revised Statutes Chapter 451
MontanaMontana Uniform Premarital Agreement Act*
NebraskaNebraska Revised Statute 42-1002*
NevadaNevada Revised Statutes 123A*
New HampshireNew Hampshire Title XLIII Chapter 460:2
New JerseyNew Jersey Uniform Premarital Agreement Act *
New MexicoNew Mexico Statutes 40-3A*
New YorkNew York Senate Section 3-301, 3-3-3
North CarolinaNorth Carolina Uniform Premarital Agreement Act*
North DakotaNorth Dakota Uniform Premarital and Marital Agreements Act*
OhioOhio Revised Code Section 2106.22
OklahomaNo specific law available.
OregonOregon Legislature Chapter 108.7*
PennsylvaniaPennsylvania General Assembly Title 23 §3106
Rhode IslandRhode Island Uniform Premarital Agreement Act*
South CarolinaSouth Carolina Uniform Premarital Agreement Act
South DakotaSouth Dakota Uniform Premarital Agreement Act*
TennesseeTennessee Code 36-3-5016
TexasTexas Uniform Premarital Agreement Act*
UtahUtah Uniform Premarital Agreement Act*
VermontNo specific law available.
VirginiaVirginia Premarital Agreement Act*
WashingtonRCW 26.16.120
West VirginiaWest Virginia Code §48-1-203
WisconsinWisconsin State Legislature Chapter 766.58*
WyomingNo specific law available.

* Denotes states which have adopted/adapted the Uniform Premarital Agreement Act.32,35

What Percentage of Prenups Are Thrown Out?

One of the primary fallbacks of a prenuptial agreement is that oftentimes, these contracts do not hold up in court and end up getting thrown out. In many cases, this has to do with the way that the contract was developed or what is written into the contract. In other cases, a prenup may be thrown out because a couple’s situation has changed drastically enough that the contract is no longer an accurate representation of their financial affairs. With all of this uncertainty, it makes sense for individuals to wonder how many prenups get thrown out and don’t actually hold up in court.

Despite the gradually growing interest in prenups, there is still very limited data about them. This likely stems from the fact that prenups are not widely publicized, including private information, and occupy a vague legal space between estate law and family law.28

It is impossible to give even an estimate of how many prenups are thrown out, but it is possible to present the predominant reasons why a prenuptial agreement would not hold up in a court of law.21,26

  1. The document was drafted by someone other than a vetted attorney and does not meet legal standards.
  2. The information contained in the contract is inaccurate or incomplete, not fully disclosed.
  3. Either party lacked legal representation.
  4. The prenuptial agreement was signed under duress or when not fully mentally competent (coercion, time constraints, under the influence, etc.)
  5. The contract contains stipulations for issues or situations which are not covered by the state’s prenup laws. Some states do not allow clauses addressing the following:
    1. Child custody
    2. Child support
    3. Alimony forfeiture
    4. Lifestyle factors (e.g. infidelity)
    5. Domestic affairs
    6. Illegal activity
  6. The prenuptial agreement is outdated or one-sided.

When considering a premarital agreement, it is always important to ensure that proper legal counsel is sought and both parties’ needs are fully met.

How Many Marriages End in Divorce?

Divorce is a very complicated issue, and it is influenced by many variables, such as:33

  • Whether there are children in the marital equation
  • Average income
  • Spending habits
  • Age at time of marriage
  • Addiction and substance use
  • First marriage or subsequent
  • Education and IQ
  • Political affiliation
  • Religion
  • Current age

With all of these factors to consider, it is no wonder that people are concerned about how many marriages end in divorce and some are even looking to premarital background checks or marital background examinations to help avoid this outcome. Within the United States, the divorce rate has hovered around 50% for decades, though both marriage and divorce rates have been trending downward in recent years, with a 45% divorce rate in 2020, per the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.33,38 The data also suggests that divorce rates for second and third marriages are increasing significantly.33

Screenshot of CDC website page for national statistics with arrows pointing to the marriage and divorce data in the US.
A 2016 publication by the U.S. Census Bureau breaks down the divorce rate according to sex, ethnicity, and age.36

The following table presents marriage and divorce statistics by state, along with relevant state marriage and divorce laws.

StateMarriage Rate by State*Divorce Rate by State*Divorce Rate %**State Divorce Laws
Alabama7.23.751.4Alabama Code §30-2-1
Alaska5.73.256.1Alaska Statute §25.24.020-.030
Arizona4.92.959.2Arizona Revised Statute §25-315
Arkansas7.84.051.3Arkansas Code §9-12-31013
California3.2***– – – –California Family Code §231017
Colorado6.72.943.3Colorado Revised Statutes §14-10-110(1)
Connecticut4.31.637.2Connecticut Superior Court Chapter 25
Delaware4.42.352.3Delaware Code Title 13 §1505
Florida5.73.052.6Florida Statute §61.052
Georgia5.11.937.3Georgia Code §19-5-3
Hawaii7.4***– – – –Hawaii Revised Statutes Annotated §580-41
Idaho7.33.446.6Idaho Code §32-610
Illinois3.91.641750 ILCS §5/401
Indiana5.8***– – – –Indiana Code §31-15-2-3(1)
Iowa4.92.142.9Iowa Code §598.5(g)
Kansas4.91.836.7Kansas Statute §23-270119
Kentucky4.93.163.3Kentucky Revised Statutes §403.170
Louisiana3.41.441.2LSA-C.C. Article 103
Maine5.82.441.4Maine Divorce & Family Separation
Maryland4.31.739.5Maryland Code Family Law §7-103
Massachusetts4.01.025Massachusetts General Laws Chapter 208
Michigan4.22.150Michigan Comp. Laws § 552.6(1)
Minnesota4.4***– – – –Minnesota Statutes §518.06
Mississippi5.73.357.9Mississippi Code Annotated §93-5-2
Missouri5.62.748.2Missouri Revised Statutes §452.310
Montana10.42.322.1Montana Code Annotated §40-4-104
Nebraska5.02.856Nebraska Revised Statutes §42-361(1)
Nevada21.03.014.3Nevada Revised Statutes §125.010
New Hampshire6.12.439.3New Hampshire Revised Statutes §§458:7, 458:7-a
New Jersey4.11.741.5New Jersey Revised Statutes §2A-34:2
New Mexico3.4***– – – –§40-4-5 NMSA, 1978
New York4.51.840New York Domestic Relations Law §170
North Carolina5.52.850.9North Carolina Gen. Stat. §§ 50-6, 50-5.1
North Dakota5.32.445.3North Dakota Century Code 14-05
North Dakota Divorce Guidelines
Ohio4.82.552.1Ohio Revised Code §3105.01
Oklahoma5.93.457.6Oklahoma Statutes §43-101
Oregon5.22.650Oregon Revised Statutes §107.025
Pennsylvania4.62.35023 Pennsylvania Cons. Stat. §3301(a)
Rhode Island4.51.942.2Rhode Island General Laws §15-5-3.1
South Carolina5.72.035.1South Carolina Code §§20-30-10, 20-30-20
South Dakota6.02.541.7South Dakota Codified Laws § 25-4-2(7)
Tennessee7.33.243.8Tennessee Code Annotated §36-4-101
Texas5.31.528.3Texas Family Code §6.001
Utah8.43.339.3Utah Code §30-3-1
Vermont6.02.135Vermont Statute Title 15 §§ 551, 552
Virginia5.32.954.7Virginia Code Ch. 6 § 20-91
Washington4.82.858.3Washington Revised Code §26.09.030(a)
West Virginia5.63.155.4West Virginia Code §48-5-201 and 48-5-202
Wisconsin4.52.044.4Wisconsin Basic Guide to Divorce
Wyoming6.83.855.9Wyoming Statutes §20-2-104

* Statistics for the year 2020. Rates are per 1000 of the state population. Published by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention National Vital Statistics System.37

** Percentage calculated by comparing divorce and marriage rates. Note: This is not the percentage of married individuals who divorced in 2020. It is the percentage of the general population who divorced in 2020 divided by the percentage of the general population who married in the same year, which yields an approximation.

*** No official state divorce data was reported in the previous five years or more.

Is There a Correlation Between Prenup and Divorce?

It may seem likely that there would exist a strong correlation between prenuptial agreements and divorce. However, the data is not available to support the claim in one direction or another. It is unclear whether getting a prenup increases, decreases, or has no effect on the rate of divorce.24

What is clear is that individuals believe there is a correlation between prenup and divorce. In fact, an early 2000s study found that more than 63% of individuals polled in the general population felt that a partner requesting a prenup was correlated with a higher likelihood of divorce.29

There are so many individual variables that must be considered, that it is nearly impossible to establish a direct correlation. However, considering that divorce is more common among couples at a lower income level, couples who regularly argue about finances, and couples who begin a marriage without any financial assets, one might speculate that marriages with prenups are less likely to end in divorce because individuals who get prenups are more likely to have a stable income and some financial assets.30,33

What Should a Woman Ask For in a Prenup?

Many people believe that a man is more likely than a woman to request a prenuptial agreement. While there may be some truth to this, women can and should benefit from a prenup to the same extent. When drafting a premarital agreement, a woman should be sure that:26

  • She has individual legal counsel
  • Children from prior relationships are protected
  • Her earning potential or income is insured against the decision to stay home and raise children
  • Family heirlooms and inheritance are preserved for children
  • Alimony

However, trying to understand the reason behind the request for a prenup can help a hurt partner come to terms with a prenuptial agreement. Things to consider when a partner wants a prenup may include:9

  • What is included in the desired prenup
  • Whether financial security is a big priority for the partner
  • Whether the partner has children from other relationships
  • Whether the prenup equally reflects and protects the interests of both parties

Not every prenuptial agreement is without bumps in the road, and sometimes the process of drafting a premarital agreement causes more strain than a relationship can handle. If and when prenup negotiations appear to lead to a failed relationship, it may be a good time to query whether that relationship was built to last. Further, consider that financial questions will inevitably arise at some point in the marriage, so if terms cannot be agreed upon, it is better to recognize this before making a marriage commitment.9

What Is the Percentage of Marriages With Prenups That End in Divorce?

Although one source indicates that 5% of divorced couples in the U.S. have a prenuptial agreement in place,7 data to support this number have not been found. Furthermore, the percentage of divorced couples with a prenuptial agreement is a separate statistic from marriages with prenups that end in divorce.

For anyone wondering how many marriages have prenups and still end in divorce, the unfortunate answer is that there isn’t enough data to determine that.

The divorce statistics in the United States have loomed over married couples for years, and more individuals are considering premarital agreements to avoid hefty divorce settlements.

This article explores the ins and outs of prenuptial agreements and answers the question, how many marriages have prenups, to help individuals make informed decisions for their own relationships.

Frequently Asked Questions About How Many Marriages Have Prenups

Would You Marry a Man Who Wants a Prenup? 

In a 2003 study, over 60% of individuals indicated that they felt a marriage has a higher probability of ending in divorce if a partner requests a prenuptial agreement.29 It may be difficult not to feel hurt or offended by such a request.

What Should I Do If a Prenup Ruined My Relationship? (Regret Prenup?)

Keep in mind that prenups are not for every couple, and a prenuptial agreement should only be signed when both parties feel their needs have been met in the contract.

What Is the Average Length of Marriage Before Divorce?

The biggest factor to consider when examining the average length of marriage before divorce is whether it is a first or subsequent marriage. Sources indicate that first marriages last an average of eight years, while second marriages last approximately seven years.33


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