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3 Legal Considerations of Marriage

As most of you know, Brittleigh and I are quickly approaching the date of our wedding, and looking forward to celebrating our marriage with our family and friends. Marriage is an exciting time, and a big change in your lives. But it is important to remember that marriage is also a legal contract which affects your legal rights and financial responsibilities. As my wedding day gets closer, it provides a good opportunity to discuss the effect that marriage has on the new spouses.

#1 CHANGING YOUR LEGAL SURNAME AFTER THE WEDDING

As soon as your friends and family find out the wedding is on, the question of changing your name begins to pop up, will you, will you not? Obviously, the issues surrounding name changes have been historically dealt with by women, but the issue is still a critical one regardless of gender.

There are many factors which go into a decision regarding a name change.

The decision of whether to make a name change after the wedding is entirely up to you.

When you sign your marriage certificate, it does not result in an automatic name change for you or your spouse. If one or both of you decide to change your surname, you must bring your marriage certificate to any official institution, such as your local social security office, that keeps records of your name to update your information.


Remember, upon completion of your name change you'll also need to notify places such as:

  • The local BMV

  • Banking institutions

  • Insurance companies

  • Utility providers

  • Your employer

Retaining your surname is certainly a choice. However, you can encounter certain obstacles by having a different last name than your spouse and family. For example, if you have a different surname than your kids, you may be asked to provide proof of your relationship in situations involving international travel or questions of guardianship.


#2 SHARED FINANCIAL MATTERS

In many ways, marriage will change the way people approach their financial matters. Whether you are married or in a long-term relationship, many couples will combine their finances with each other. That could mean joint bank accounts, as well as shared responsibilities on obligations such as a mortgage, utilities, and cell phone plans.


Obviously, the choice as to whether to combine your financial accounts together, or simply provide access to separate bank accounts, is entirely yours but once a couple is married your spouse becomes entitled to a portion of your estate. So, if the marriage doesn’t last forever, you and your spouse may continue to be partially responsible for each other’s finances.


And while everyone hopes that marriage will be a lifelong commitment, let’s be honest, statistics and a realistic view of the world provide some evidence to the contrary. In an effort to avoid such complications about banking and financial matters, you can set forth an agreement separating certain assets before your wedding day. That brings us to the last topic for today, the Prenuptial Agreement.


#3 PRENUPTIAL AGREEMENTS

Prenuptial Agreements have a negative reputation. We’ve all heard it. Why talk about the end of a marriage before it even begins? If it’s true love, you don’t need one, right? Well, the truth is that a prenuptial agreement (or "prenup") does clarify matters regarding your assets, finances and property. But they also are a powerful tool to help you and your spouse build open lines of communication and trust right from the very start of the marriage.



In brief, a prenuptial agreement can specify which assets are shared and which will be separate, as well as set forth a division of properties, assets and joint debts in the event the marriage is terminated.


Stay tuned for another blog later this week for a deep dive into prenuptial agreements, but suffice to say that while some people may be reluctant to sign a prenuptial agreement, it is especially beneficial if you have children from a previous relationship or have significant assets that you wish to keep separate, such as business interests and investments. As always, for greater detail about any topic discussed on the KCC Team Blog, give our office a shout and we'll be happy to assist in whatever manner we can, even if it's just helping you navigate the in's and out's of how to change your name. We are currently taking on new clients in Coshocton, Tuscarawas, and Holmes Counties, with limited availability in Guernsey, Harrison & Stark. You can reach us at 740-622-6464 or check out our Facebook page for further updates. For best practices on how to communicate with our office, you can read our previous blog post The Dos and Donts of Communication To learn more about how to retain Law Offices of Kevin C. Cox, LLC click here.

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