Getting Married: Checklist

If you're thinking about walking down the aisle, or if you've already set a date, below is a checklist of steps to take when getting married and things to keep in mind. It's also always important to check the marriage requirements in your state and/or to speak with a family law attorney because each state is different when it comes to marriage-related issues such as the legal requirements for marriage and the specifics of pre-marital agreements.

Are You Ready for Marriage?

The success or failure of a marriage may hinge on how well the couple deals with issues such as financial assets, communication, conflict, parenting, spirituality, expectations, among others. It's important that future spouses fully discuss these concerns before getting married. Take the "Are You Ready for Marriage" Test with your future spouse for more insight.

Legal Marriage Requirements

Each state has its own requirements for couples wanting to get married, including marriage licenses, blood tests, residency requirements, among others. Make sure you and your future spouse have fulfilled all marriage requirements in your state prior to the big day.

Marriage Ceremonies

Most states have legal requirements pertaining to the marriage ceremony itself, including who may perform the marriage ceremony (i.e. a justice of the peace or a minister) and whether witnesses to the ceremony are required.

Prenuptial Agreements

A prenuptial (or "pre-marital") agreement can help define the property and financial rights and obligations of marrying spouses, including what will happen if the marriage relationship ends. If you're considering entering into a pre-marital agreement, you should be aware of legal requirements that must be met in order for the agreement to be considered valid and enforceable.

Changing Your Name After Marriage

Although neither spouse is legally required to take the other spouse's last name after marriage, many new spouses choose to change their name for traditional and symbolic reasons. There are a number of steps you can take to make a name change quickly and effectively.

Marriage, Money, and Property

When you get married, your property and finances will (to a certain extent) merge with those of your spouse. You should become familiar with what is and is not considered marital or "community" property, and understand how to keep certain assets as separate property, if you wish to do so. Other financial issues to keep in mind before you get married include pre-existing debts and tax considerations.

Related Resources

Please visit the links below for specific information on the following marriage-related topics:

Need More Help with Your Getting Married Checklist? Get Answers from an Attorney

You're ready to take the plunge and marry your sweetheart. While marriage is a time of joy and bliss, keep in mind it's also a legal agreement between two people. If you've navigated through the "getting married checklist" and need help understanding the laws in your state, let a family law attorney walk you through the process. Find a family law attorney near you for some peace of mind before tying the knot.

Next Steps

Contact a qualified family law attorney to make sure your rights are protected.

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