Getting married is a major milestone in life. The day you exchange vows is likely to be one of the most memorable days of your life. However, marriage is also a serious and life-changing decision. With about 50 percent of married couples in the U.S. ending up in divorce, you will want to take measures to avoid complications and potential conflicts. Part of this involves bearing in mind several legal aspects of marriage.
Here are a few things to consider before you tie the knot.
HOW THE MARRIAGE WILL AFFECT YOUR CHILDREN
In case you have children from a previous relationship, getting married will have a huge impact on them. Depending on the circumstances, you may need to think about changing their legal guardianship. It will also be important to talk to them about your plans to get married. Lastly, consider discussing the matter with your co-parent since the situation may also affect them.
MONEY AND PROPERTY
When it comes to marriage, money is a tricky but very important topic. Failure to discuss financial matters can cause discord down the line and eventually put a strain on your relationship. When thinking about marriage, consider talking to your partner about property rights, the debts you have, spending habits, budgeting and financial views. You can also choose to have an agreement on financial matters.
Even as you plan your wedding, you should not overlook the importance of a prenuptial agreement. The document specifies the property and financial rights and obligations of both parties before the marriage. It may also include the rights and obligations that the spouses must adhere to in the event that the marriage ends. A pre-marital agreement can help you build a healthy marriage, prevent a divorce and help make a divorce process smooth if the marriage ends.
Once you get married, you will need to organize your property to ensure the financial needs and goals of your family are met when you pass away. This will require that you think about your will, life insurance policies, investment funds, retirement accounts and other financial accounts. Estate planning is particularly important if children from a previous relationship are involved. Proper planning will ensure your spouse and children will receive what is rightfully theirs.
Married couples can transfer assets between one another without incurring capital gains tax. After marriage, you will also have the option of filing a joint income tax return as a couple. To do this, you will need to update your tax filing information. In case you were previously married, you will have to straighten out any outstanding tax issues with your ex-spouse before you remarry.
ENSURE YOUR CEREMONY IS LEGAL
Most states have legal requirements regarding marriage ceremonies. These laws relate to who can perform the ceremony as well as whether there should be a witness. A good number of states limit the people who can officiate a wedding to ministers, judges and clergy members. When planning your wedding, you should take time to look up your state’s laws to ensure your ceremony is legal.
You will want your state to recognize your marriage as legally binding. One of the legal things you will need to consider before getting married is obtaining a marriage license. This is a document issued by a state authority or religious organization that authorizes a couple to marry. Because the requirements for applying for a marriage license vary from state to state, you should check the requirements in your state prior to your wedding day.
Consulting a family law attorney will help you get a clear understanding of the legal and financial implications of marriage. At Beckman Steen and Lungstrom, P.A., we have knowledgeable and experienced legal experts who are always willing to help. We can assist couples both before getting married and during a divorce process. Contact us today to speak to an attorney and receive a free consultation.