Marriage is a big step for any couple. Before taking the big leap, make
sure you’ve discussed these ten topics.
Make sure there is a sufficient courtship period so you are as certain
as possible regarding compatibility. It’s much more fun and easy
to get married than it is to get a divorce.
Agree in advance of marriage how you will communicate and work toward resolution
of conflict after marriage. Conflict is inevitable.
If one or both parties have careers that could involve relocation, how
will that be handled?
- Joint or separate accounts?
- How will expenses be shared?
- Expectations related to household budgets
Managing Separate Property
If separate property is co-mingled without traceability, it will lose separate
property identity and be deemed community property. This would become
important in the event of a divorce or separation.
Are there issues that need to be resolved contractually before marriage?
If so, a prenuptial agreement may be appropriate. Contact a family law
attorney to draft a prenuptial agreement. There are a few things to keep in mind:
- They are not favored by courts, but can be enforceable if reasonable and fair.
- Won’t be enforced if a party is not represented by independent counsel,
is signed too close to the wedding day, or is grossly inequitable.
Check Tax withholding status – married filing jointly typically results
in lower taxes and so you may want to adjust withholding, (but also know
there might be circumstances under which you would file married filing
Consult with your CPA or tax attorney before selling real estate to determine
capital gains issues, and ask about how your combined income might affect
IRA deduction limits.
Full Disclosure of Debts
Each person should fully disclose the debts and financial responsibilities
they are bringing into the marriage.
If the couple plans having children, they should make sure they are on
same page relative to
- goals and expectations for development, education and associated expenses,
- will one party stop working and who will it be, and
- how to best manage blended families.
- Create or change wills as necessary.
- Consider durable power of attorney, living wills, etc.
- If second marriage, how will children from previous relationships be treated
in estate planning?