4 Little Legalities of Marriage
The question has been popped, the invitations sent, and the dress bought—but what about all of the boring, legal stuff? Here are 4 little (but important) legal matters to consider when you tie the knot.
Oh, sorry. I didn’t mean to turn off the romance here. Pre-nups (formally, pre-nuptial agreements) aren’t just for the rich or pessimistic anymore. Talk to your fiancé about creating a pre-nup, or you can talk about a post-nup after you are married. A pre-nup will help protect you and your spouse should there be some problem with marriage in the future.
While this sounds like a “glass half empty” approach, here are a few situations that might cause you to call a lawyer: One (or both) of you
If any of these situations apply to you, think about signing a pre-nup. It will not jinx your marriage, I promise. You can even create a “sunset provision,” which is basically an expiration date—if you last, let’s say, 10 years, then the pre-nup will be void. Some provisions you can include in an agreement are division of property, spousal support, provisions for specific ground of divorce (different results if you divorce because of infidelity versus just not getting along), treatment of future earnings, and the possession of assets. When drawing up the agreement, make sure you both have lawyers present and there is full disclosure between both parties.
This part is pretty easy: you have to get a license to get married. Each state has slightly different rules regarding marriage licenses, but you will usually need two forms of identification and cash or check to pay a processing fee. Both the bride and groom need to be present. While it’s good to think ahead, don’t jump the gun too much on getting your license—most licenses will expire 30 to 60 days after issue. Also, some counties have exclusive licenses, meaning they can’t be used outside the county. So, check your county’s website to find more information on fees, expiration dates, and any other restrictions.
The Name Change
If you are going to opt for the tradition of taking your husband’s name, here are a few points to remember. (If you’re choosing to keep your name… just skip this section.) You need to change your name as soon as possible on all government and financial forms. This includes social security, bank accounts, credit cards, driver’s license, and any other identification cards. Doing this right after your wedding will save you a lot of time and confusion when you mistakenly sign your married name on an account still laden with your maiden name (from personal experience: it’s not fun). Look at the websites or call the offices of your accounts and government agencies to find out the specific actions needed for each change. Most of these changes will require a copy of your marriage certificate (which should be mailed to you the week after your wedding, from the license-granting county) and identification.
Hey, remember those insurance policies? You don’t want to be caught driving your husband’s car without your name on that magic slip of paper. Often, combing car insurance policies will save you money. There are some cases where you’ll want to keep them separate, though—if your hubby-to-be has a bad driving record (or maybe you do…), or if one of you has a pricy ride, keep the policies separate. After deciding on car insurance policies, check on any other policies you might have. If you have life insurance, it is customary to name your spouse as a beneficiary. Look into buying a family plan for medical insurance, an option which might be cheaper than two individual plans.
Okay, the boring stuff is over now. Just remember these 4 little legalities of marriage as you prepare to walk down the aisle, and there will be a lot less stress after the honeymoon bliss!
Victoria Ramos studied business and now blogs about developments in the field, as well as her other interests in law and marketing. She stays busy consulting for Lawyers in Barrie, socializing, hosting parties, decorating, and writing.
The time honored tradition of a woman taking her husband’s name once they are married is a beautiful way to mark your entrance into a new family and for a couple, the beginning of your own family. For years now, the options of how , when and if you change your name at all leave a lot of room for personal decision. Whatever you choose to do, whether you change your name or keep your maiden, both are more than acceptable by today’s standards.
If you should decide to change your name, the task can be daunting. We have pulled the latest to-do checklist to help out our brides and get them organized for legally binding themselves to a new husband AND a new name. But, before that, we have a few new ideas and maybe even a few compromises for those brides who are on a the fence.
And here is our name-changing checklist courtesy of The Knot ( For whatever way to decide to go!)
1. Get your marriage license Before you can change your name, you’ll need the original (or certified) marriage license with the raised seal and your new last name on it. Call the clerk’s office where your license was filed to get copies if one wasn’t automatically sent to you.
2. Change your Social Security card Visit the Social Security Administration’s website and fill out the application for a new Social Security card. You’ll keep the same number — just your name will be different. Mail in your application to the local Social Security Administration office. You should get your new card within 10 business days.
3. Change your license at the DMV Take a trip to the local Department of Motor Vehicles office to get a new license with your new last name. Bring every form of identification you can lay your hands on — your old license, your certified marriage license and — most important — your new Social Security card.
4. Change your bank accounts This one’s a biggie, especially if you’re setting up a joint bank account, or if you have one already set up. The fastest way to change your name at your bank is to go into a branch location — bring your new driver’s license and your marriage license. You should request new checks and debit and credit cards on top of changing the name attached to your accounts. Something to note: You might get hit with fees for requesting a new debit card.
4. Fill in the blanks Once you have a social security card and driver’s license in your married name, other changes should be fairly easy. Some places only require a phone call; others may ask for a copy of your marriage certificate or social security card. Be sure to notify:
Electric and other utility companies
Credit card companies
Schools and alumni associations
Landlord or mortgage company
Insurance companies (auto, home, life)
Voter registration office
Investment account providers
Your attorney (to update legal documents, including your will)
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