Did you know that marriage is a legal agreement?
It can be easy to get caught up in the romance of an engagement and forget the life-changing realities that marriage has. This is about much more than a ring on your finger!
Marriage actually comes with many binding legal ties that you need to think about before you say I do. In fact, you should actually talk about them openly with your partner, making sure your both on the same page not only about matters of the heart but also matters of the law.
Find out what you should talk about with our guide to marriage prep chats.
1. Do You Have Any Debt?
By the time that you’re engaged to your partner, you should already have a good idea of what their finances are like. But, it’s never a bad idea to ask about their debt. Whilst you won’t be held accountable for any debt they’ve incurred before you marry, it could have repercussions after the ring is on your finger.
If your spouse continues to incur debt after you’ve married, you’ll both be held responsible for paying it back in community property states. These states include California, Arizona, Idaho, and many more. Be sure to check if you’re in a community property state before you get married.
But even if you’re not living in a community property state, your partner’s finances could affect you in the future. If they don’t pay back their debt, you could find your belongings or furnishings being repossessed, which definitely isn’t ideal! If they have debt, make sure they also have a realistic plan to pay it back.
2. Do You Have Any Property?
Just like debt, you should be sure you know whether you live in a community property state when it comes to owning properties. If your partner owns property in these states, they will immediately be considered jointly owned once you’re married. This also means any debt from the proper becomes your problem too.
3. Do You Want a Prenuptial Agreement?
When it comes to marriage prep questions, once of the most important is whether or not you should get a prenup. Before marriage, you need to discuss if either of you wants a prenup to prevent a tricky divorce. It might not be something you enjoy talking about just before a wedding, but it is essential!
A prenup will lay out what each spouse will receive if you end up getting a divorce. This can help avoid a messy, angry divorce and give you both peace of mind that your assets can remain your own in the event of the dissolution of your marriage.
4. Do You Want to File Taxes Together?
Any marriage prep curriculum, including Catholic marriage prep or other religions, should talk about your finances and taxes. Before you get married, discuss whether you’ll file for taxes together or separately. If you file them together, you can get some great deductions and perks, so be sure to take a look at which is the better option for you.
5. Do You Have a Will?
If your partner has a will, it could affect your joint assets. It’s important to discuss this before you get married and ask your spouse if they’re open to making any changes. If they’re not, you could run into a couple of problems.
Whilst your spouse can’t give away any assets that come under the community property umbrella, they can give away places that legally aren’t yours. So, if you live in a house under their name, they could give it away whilst you still live there. It’s not hard to see why you would want this changed, and your spouse should be open to doing so.
6. Will You Want a Name Change?
In a lot of marriages, one partner will change their name when they get married to match their spouse. This is usually the woman, but men are also starting to change their names more frequently in modern marriages. If you are a woman, there’s definitely nothing forcing you to change your name and no real legal reason to do so.
Before you get married, discuss whether this is something either of you will be doing. It’s important you both know and respect each other’s views on legal name changes to avoid future clashes.
7. Should We Attend Marriage Prep Classes?
If you’re Catholic, a marriage prep class could help you work through these issues and give both of you the best possible start. It is religious, so whilst you might not want to attend authentic marriage prep classes in Denver or marriage prep at LDS, the principles can be nice to carry into your discussions.
The courses teach you how to listen and communicate with your partner, potential challenges you may face, and how to deal with them, as well as sharing what’s important to you both in life. You can attend some of these classes with no religious background, or just use the ideas to help your own private discussions. If you’re struggling to get through these legal questions without arguments, the classes could be very useful!
Get Ready for the Big Day
Whether you take marriage prep or race through these questions with ease, it’s vital you discuss all of them. Marriage is one of the biggest legal contracts most people ever enter, so take it very seriously.
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