If you are thinking about getting married, or if you have already set a date, below is a checklist of steps to take and things to keep in mind. Note: It is important to check marriage requirements in your state and/or speak 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, and more. So, it is important that future spouses consider and fully discuss these concerns before getting married.
Take the "Are You Ready for Marriage" Test with your future spouse.
Legal Requirements for Getting Married
Each state has its own requirements for couples wishing to be married. These include marriage licenses, blood tests, residency requirements, and more. Make sure you and your future spouse have fulfilled all marriage requirements in your state before the big day arrives.
Learn more about Legal Requirements of Marriage.
State-specific marriage requirement information:
State Marriage License and Blood Test Requirements
More State-Specific Marriage Information
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.
More on Marriage Ceremonies (FindLaw Bookshelf)
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 are 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.
More on Prenuptial Agreements.
Changing Your Name After Marriage
After marriage, neither spouse is legally required to take the other spouse's last name, but many new spouses choose to do so for traditional and symbolic reasons. There are a number of steps you can take to make a name change quickly and effectively.
More on Changing Your Name After Marriage.
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.
More on Marriage, Money, and Property.
If you are interested in getting married, the above basic information may not answer all of your questions. Click on the links below for specific information on the following marriage-related topics:
- Marrying a Foreign Spouse
- Getting Married Abroad (U.S. Department of State)
- Remarrying: Stepparents and Adoption
- Same-Sex Marriage
- Things to Watch Out For: Invalid Marriages (FindLaw Bookshelf)
Ready to Marry Your Partner? Get a Free Legal Consultation
You are ready to take the plunge and marry your sweetheart. While marriage is a time of joy and bliss, keep in mind it is also a legal agreement between two people. If you have questions about getting married, including understanding the laws in your state, let a family law attorney walk you through the process. A family law attorney in your state will review your case free of charge and at no obligation to you.