Summer is a very popular time for weddings. The weather warms up, birds chirp, and love is in the air. As attorneys, we often marvel at how little couples need to do to get legally married. Despite the fact that marriage is a complex legal relationship, most couples don’t realize the contractual terms that they’ve agreed to when they tie the knot. Here are a few things to consider before you walk down the aisle.
- Property. Upon death or divorce, the law will impose certain rules about how your property is divided. Most property and debt that the couple accrues during the marriage will be considered “marital” and will, therefore, be divided “equitably” upon divorce. This includes property that spouses may consider separate during their marriage such as business interests, credit card debt, etc. Upon death, spouses stand to inherit their spouse’s estate. In Minnesota, spouses cannot fully disinherit their spouse from taking their property upon death, even with a will in place.
- Benefits. As legal family members, spouses may be able to participate in their spouse’s health insurance plan, retirement plans, etc. That’s generally a significant incentive for folks considering marriage, but there is a downside, too. After marriage, some people find that they are disqualified from federal or state benefits, because, as a married couple, their collective income is too high to qualify.
- Babies. There is a presumption that the child born to a married couple is the child of the two individuals in the couple. However, this is a presumption only, which means that it can be rebutted (disputed /challenged) and there’s no clear definition of who can bring such a claim. DLO strongly encourages couples where one parent is not biologically related to avoid relying on this presumption, and instead to move forward with the adoption process to irrefutably establish the parent-child relationship between a child and each of their parents, even if the parents are married.
Have questions? Want more information? Be in touch and we can discuss your options with you. There are many ways to alter the default rules, such as prenups and postnups, estate planning, adoptions, and more.