Tips for Marriage

Getting married is a major decision in life. The consequences can last a lifetime. Marriage has its own benefits but it also brings with it financial and legal obligations. So it is important that you prepare yourself for any situation. Here are some tips that can help you in your married life.

The Definition of Marriage

Marriage is the legal union between two people. To be legally recognized by the state, it must comply with certain requirements prescribed by state law. The common requirements include marriage license and ceremony. Marriage is essentially a legal contract entered into between the husband and wife.

While the general rule is that the couple must be of opposite sexes, some states recognize same sex marriages. Some states recognize common law marriage which is essentially a relationship between a man and a woman whom the state considers as a married couple based on the fact that they have been living together for some time and they have represented themselves as man and wife to everyone and intend to get married.

Prenuptial Agreement

A prenuptial agreement can go a long way in ensuring a smooth marriage. It may not sound romantic but you should seriously consider a prenuptial agreement. There is a misconception that only rich people use these agreements. While it is true that the concept of prenuptial agreement is more common amongst the rich and famous, it can be used by anyone. The benefit of a prenuptial agreement includes:

• It protects your assets
• It will protect you from liability for your spouse’s debt
• It will determine how the marital property will be distributed in case of death or divorce
• It clearly identifies the financial rights and liabilities of the spouses during the divorce
• It helps prevent long time consuming disputes in case of a divorce

No Prenuptial Agreement

If you do not have a prenuptial agreement, your state law will determine the division of property. Generally each spouse has the right to:

• A share of ownership in any property or asset acquired by the other spouse during the marriage
• Receive some properties of the other spouse in case of death of the other spouse
• Expect the other to share his or her debts acquired during the marriage
• Expect the other to share the responsibility of managing the assets acquired during the marriage

There are many reasons why you should have a prenuptial agreement. For example if you were previously married and you have kids from your previous marriage, you may want your kids to get your assets when you die but your state law may transfer such assets to your new spouse. You can customize a prenuptial agreement to meet your specific requirements.

Marriage Requirements

To be legally valid, your marriage must comply with the requirements of your state law. Check with your state law. You must find out the following:

• Requirement for marriage certificate
• Legal requirements to be met before marriage
• Who is authorized to officiate the marriage
• Blood and other tests requirements
• Counseling requirements

Rights and Benefits

Marriage brings with it a host of rights and benefits. Many states provide incentives to encourage couples to get married. Here are some of the incentives:

• Tax benefits (joint filing)
• Medicare, Social Security and disability benefits
• Medical leave, health care and other employment benefits
• Inheritance rights
• Right to child support and alimony in case of divorce
• Right to take medical decisions that can affect you and your spouse

Financial Plan

Money was and is still the number cause for divorce. Proper financial planning can help you avoid unpleasant situations later. It may not be a romantic thing to do but you should sit down with your to be spouse and discuss your finances. Both should disclose all financial dealings to each other. While there are many things to discuss about finances, it is not possible to list all of them here. Here are a few important ones:

• What should be considered an essential expense and what is discretionary
• How will the expenses be shared and who will pay what
• Will the two of you open joint accounts and will you be maintaining any separate account
• If one of you earns more than the other, who will contribute to what and how much
• What about the debts
• What about the bills

You must set goals and determine how long you need to save to achieve those goals. Your goals may change overtime. You must be flexible on this issue. Here are a few things you need to consider:

• Home buying
• Children
• Children’s education
• Retirement
• Holidays and travel
• Home renovation
• Cars

After the Wedding

It doesn’t end with the ceremony. Even after the ceremony, there are many things you need to do. Here are a few things you need to consider:

• Name Change
• Modifying your estate planning documents
• Modifying your financial accounts to include your spouse
• Health Insurance
• Step parent adoption in case your spouse has a child from a previous marriage

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