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Sign This Prenup—That’s What She Said!

Thursday, 23 Sep 2010 | 2:02 PM ET

Men have finally wised-up to the need for a prenuptial agreement, but after the recession, women are increasingly learning the joys of being protected — you know, just in case.

Prenups overall are on the rise: A whopping 73 percent of divorce attorneys say they’ve seen an increase in the pre-marital documents, according to a recent survey by the American Academy of Matrimonial Lawyers. What’s more, 52 percent of them said they’ve seen an increase in women initiating the requests.

"Prenuptial agreements are becoming more generally accepted as an effective way to protect assets. Interestingly, these requests are no longer just limited to a specific gender or age group," said Marlene Eskind Moses, president of the AAML.

Part of it can be attributed to the recession.

“People are more aware of their financial situation — moreso than ever before,” said Steve Miller, a Florida divorce attorney.

(Miller gained Internet notoriety for his DivorceEZ video on YouTube. )

The fact that more women are working today than ever before also plays a role.

“These are absolutely professional women earning their own income” who are now looking to protect the wealth they’ve accumulated, Miller said.

Though, Moses said non-working women — even some “trophy wives” — are starting to initiate prenuptial agreements.

“They may want to make certain entering into their marriage that they’re not going to be thrown out onto the street at a later time without some security,” Moses said. “They want provisions for transportation, housing, or whatever” in the event of divorce.

Pensions and retirement accounts are increasingly being included in prenups, the survey showed.

Thirty-six percent of the lawyers surveyed said they’re seeing an increase in retirement savings being a part of the prenup.

Part of that is people marrying later in life, though it’s also the fact that many have watched their retirement accounts dwindle in the past few years.

“To some extent, [their retirement account] has already been divided — the recession has substantially reduced its value,” Moses explained. “Entering into marriages, these people would want to protect what they have left and not divide it again.”

The prenuptial agreement has become so ingrained in popular culture that Colgate used it in a commercial as one of its “You can say anything with a smile” series.

Husband: It’s a prenup. [smiles]

Wife: Is it because I’m so much better looking than you? [smiles]

Husband: No, it’s because my family is so much richer than yours. [smiles]

Lawyer: We just don’t trust you, Karen. [smiles, hands her a pen]

Screen graphic: You can say anything with a smile.

Stay tuned for the next episode, when Karen says:

You know what, Jim — if that’s your real name — I don’t trust you either. Sign MY prenup. [smiles]

And, scene.

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  • Cindy Perman is a writer at CNBC.com, covering jobs, real estate, retirement and personal finance.

  • Based in Los Angeles, Jane Wells is a CNBC business news reporter and also writes the Funny Business blog for CNBC.com.

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