Getting married is a life-changing event with broad legal and financial implications. From IRS ramifications to whether your state is a community property jurisdiction -- there is a lot at stake. The following articles and resources will help those who are thinking about getting married determine whether or not they're truly ready for marriage. Those who already have set the date may benefit from FindLaw's articles about marriage ceremonies, changing your name, prenuptial agreements, the legality of destination weddings, and more.
Is Marriage Right for You?
Before you even pursue a marriage license, it's very important to determine whether you're ready for marriage and even whether marriage is right for you. Sometimes people know fairly quickly that it's the right move, but anyone making a lifetime commitment should take the decision seriously. While divorce is always available for ending failed marriages, it can be an emotionally wrenching and financially draining undertaking.
One of the biggest considerations, other than the general compatibility of the two parties, has to do with finances. If one partner earns substantially more than the other, or if one of the parties has low earning potential, how will that impact your life together? Some partners may choose to sign a prenuptial agreement in order to protect assets in the event of a divorce; but keep in mind that the very mention of this can cause friction in a young relationship.
If you're relatively young, you may not yet know exactly what you want out of life or who you want to spend it with. And if the two parties disagree about core issues such as children, parenting, and personal philosophies, it could create problems down the road.
What to Do After Marriage
After the wedding ceremony, reception, and honeymoon, you will need to do a few more things to bring your finances and other legal matters up to speed. Many of these steps will depend on your personal preferences, but they include the following:
- Changing your name
- Obtaining life insurance and/or adding your spouse as the beneficiary
- Writing a new will
- Adding your spouse to your employer's health insurance plan
- Opening a joint checking account
If you get married abroad, make sure the marriage license is valid and have a record of the marriage sent to your local county clerk's office in order to validate the marriage.
Changing Your Name
It is not necessary to change your name when getting married and is less common than it once was, but it can simplify things. Couples may choose a completely new last name; one may take the other's last name (as has been done traditionally); one or both may hyphenate their last name; or they may choose to retain their premarital names.
But if you do change your name, be sure to reflect this change on your state-issued I.D. (typically your driver's license) and other documents, such as a passport or military I.D. Also, you will want to notify employers, schools, financial institutions, creditor, and others with whom you do business or have a relationship.
Click on a link below to learn more about getting married.