Getting married is probably the largest decision you'll ever make and affects every area of your life. Along with the benefits and rights of marriage come legal and financial obligations, so make sure you are prepared when it comes time to tie the knot. Here are some tips to help ensure that the transition into married life goes as smoothly as possible.
Marriage is the legal union of two people as recognized by the state. It is usually accompanied by a license and ceremony. It may not sound romantic, but marriage is essentially a legal contract between two people.
In the U.S., most states require that the couple be of opposite sexes, but some states now allow same-sex marriage. A few states also allow something referred to as a "common law" marriage, which is created when two people live together for a period of time, hold themselves out as married, and intend to be married.
Before you take the plunge, you should strongly consider getting a prenuptial agreement. This is one of the most important marriage tips there is.
There's a lot of popular myth about what a prenuptial agreement is and who uses them. While wealthy individuals do often use prenuptials, a prenuptial has far more uses than simply protecting the assets of a wealthy individual. Prenuptials can be used to:
Absent a prenuptial, your state has a series of laws that determine how property is handled during marriage and after marriage. In most states, for instance, your spouse is entitled to:
There many good reasons to deviate from your state's laws. For instance, if you have children from a previous marriage, you may want your property to pass to your children rather than transfer to your current spouse upon your death. The advantage of a prenuptial agreement is that you can craft it to meet your particular needs.
When it comes time to formally get married, make sure that your marriage complies with your state's law on the subject. Things to find out about your state's marriage laws include:
You may be getting married because you're in love, but it doesn't hurt that marriage also has a lot of perks that come with it. States have built-in incentives to ensure that couples want to get married. Some of those incentives include:
Money continues to be the number one cause for divorce in the U.S. In order to avoid marriage money problems, it pays to sit down and have a serious financial conversation with your new partner. It may not be pretty or exciting, but it's something that needs to be done or you may end up literally paying for it down the road.
While there are more topics than can possibly be covered in any one article, consider the following questions when setting expectations for your financial future with your partner:
Set goals that you will need to save for, and state how long you think it should take to save for them. Constantly revisit this topic, as your expectations and circumstances will change over time. Some basic topics to consider include:
There's a surprising amount of work to be done after the marriage and honeymoon. Depending on what you and your spouse have decided, consider: