Checklist of Documents to Show Your Attorney Before Getting Married

Seeking legal advice before getting married will help you understand the legal aspects of your upcoming nuptials. But how should you prepare to meet with your family law attorney? You will need to prepare several documents regarding your finances, assets, property, and more.


Why Do I Need a Family Law Attorney Before Marriage?

Before the wedding, it's important to seek legal help to make sure you follow the proper steps to get a marriage license and a marriage certificate.

Emergencies or Eloping

State laws about marriage are tricky.

Getting married is more complicated than going to the clerk's office for a marriage license. The process can take longer than you expect. Some states have many steps, such as getting an affidavit and a notary to notarize the affidavit.

What if you want to get married right now? Thankfully, there is a way to skip the waiting process.

A family law attorney can apply for a waiver. The waiver will allow you to skip the waiting period and get married faster.

Name Changes

Do you want to change your name as a newly married couple? When should you change your name? Before the wedding? Or after the marriage ceremony? How do you change your name? What are the steps?

Having an experienced family law attorney to walk you through the steps will make the process much easier.

Prenuptial, Postnuptial, and Separation Agreements

You may also consider getting a prenuptial agreement (prenup), postnuptial agreement (after getting married), or a separation agreement.

These agreements can be complicated, but they can help protect your finances and property in the event of:

Agreements are helpful for property division to decide who owns what property upon death or divorce.

If you have already signed a prenuptial agreement without seeking legal advice, the prenuptial agreement is not valid if someone forced you to sign the agreement. A family law attorney can help if someone pressured you to sign a prenuptial agreement.

Preparing To Meet a Family Law Attorney

Before meeting with your attorney, it is important to prepare.

Ensure your family law attorney has all the information they need to help you in the best way possible. You can do this by gathering documents to show your attorney.

Gathering Documents

Start by gathering the documents in the checklist below. Then, make copies of them to give to your attorney.

Depending on your legal issues for meeting with an attorney, some of the documents listed in the checklist may not apply to you.

For example: If you want a prenuptial agreement (prenup), you need documents showing your finances and property ownership or interests.

Documents like income tax returns or bank statements are a great way to show your financial worth. Also, any copies of documents related to marital debt, assets, and property values will be helpful for your attorney to review.

If you have a document on the checklist, take it with you. If you do not think the document applies to you, bring it anyway.


If you cannot make copies of the documents, you can take the original documents or certified copies, and your attorney can make copies in their office. If you have an electronic version (on your computer), you can give your attorney an electronic copy.

Document Checklist

Check off each item as you gather documents. If a document does not apply to you or if you do not have a copy, write "N/A".


____ Birth certificate (original or certified copy)
____ Driver's license (original or certified copy)
____ Social Security number


____ Marriage licenses (from current and previous marriages, original or certified copy)
____ Marriage certificates (from current and previous marriages, original or certified copy)
____ Marital property records

Prenuptial Agreements

____ Prenuptial agreement (from current and previous marriages

Divorce and Annulment

____ Annulments
____ Divorce decrees (from all previous marriages, original or certified copy)

Spousal Support and Alimony

____ Alimony documents
____ Spousal support documents

Child Support and Custody

____ Court order about child custody
____ Court order about child support

Domestic Violence

____ Court order (protective order or domestic assault conviction order) about domestic violence (from current and previous marriages)


____ Individual income tax returns for the past three to five years (federal, state, and local)
____ Business income tax returns for the three to five (federal, state, and local)
____ Proof of your current income
____ Proof of spouse's current income
____ Employment contracts


____ List of bank accounts
____ Bank statements
____ Certificates of deposit
____ Pension statements
____ Retirement account statements (401k, IRA)
____ Trusts
____ Stock portfolios
____ Stock options
____ Mortgages
____ Property tax statements
____ Credit card statements
____ Loan documents
____ Utility bills
____ Other big expenses (like school tuition or a new car payment)
____ Monthly budget worksheet
____ Completed financial statements


____ Benefits statements
____ Life insurance policies
____ Health insurance policies
____ Homeowner's insurance policies
____ Automobile insurance policies


____ Personal property appraisals
____ List of real estate ownership or interests
____ Real property appraisals
____ List of valuable personal property (like home furnishings, jewelry, artwork, electronics, and clothing)
____ List of property owned by each spouse before marriage
____ List of contents of safety deposit boxes

Wills and Powers of Attorney

____ Wills
____ Living Wills
____ Powers of Attorney
____ Durable Powers of Attorney
____ Advance Health Care Directives

Hiring a Family Law Attorney

Marriage is more than just a personal commitment. It's a legal contract between you and your future spouse. Talk to a family law attorney in your area today to learn more. An experienced attorney can help you understand your rights, benefits, and obligations in your upcoming marital contract.

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Can I Solve This on My Own or Do I Need an Attorney?

  • Many people can get married without hiring legal help
  • Marriages involving prenups, significant debt, child custody issues, and property questions may need an attorney

Get tailored advice and ask questions about getting married.

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Don't Forget About Estate Planning

Marriage is an ideal time to create or change your estate planning forms. Take the time to add new beneficiaries (including your spouse!) to your will. Consider creating a power of attorney to ensure your spouse can access your financial accounts. Also, a health care directive lets your spouse make your medical decisions if you ever become incapacitated.

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