Maybe you’re thinking about marriage and you’re curious about how prenuptial agreements work. Or you’re planning a wedding and wondering which states allow same-sex marriage. Or maybe you’re back from your honeymoon and trying to figure out if your health benefits cover your new spouse. It seems like there are a million legal questions that can cloud your marital bliss. But whatever your concern may be, FindLaw’s Marriage Law section has an array of resources covering all of your marriage questions.
In this section, you’ll find helpful marriage law information and practical tips on a variety of issues related to marriage -- such as marriage rights, marriage benefits, prenuptial agreements, community property, foreign spouses, common law marriage, state marriage license requirements, and name changes after marriage. This section also includes a helpful “getting married” checklist and other resources to help guide you through the marriage process and ensure your marriage is legal.
There are very few federal marriage laws, so it’s left to the states to determine their own requirements for marriage eligibility, applications, and licenses. There are restrictions on age, mostly for those under 18 who will need parental permission to get married. You may also be required to provide extensive personal information in order to apply for a marriage license, which are normally issued by county courts where you reside or where the marriage will take place. In addition, the licenses themselves have fees, waiting periods, and are valid for a limited time only. All of these regulations will depend on either where you reside or where you decide to get married.
As of now, states also have the right to determine who can marry. The law regarding same-sex marriages is currently in flux, with many courts overturning bans on same-sex marriage and more states passing laws providing for same-sex unions. The law on common law marriages is also changing, with the majority of states no longer recognizing it as a legal union. These laws are constantly evolving, so the more up-to-date research you can do, the better.
You don’t have to be worrying about a potential divorce to be concerned about the implications marriage will have with respect to money, property, and debt. In most states, getting married means that your spouse’s income and debt now become yours, and vice versa. There are also issues that can arise with banking, finances, and investments. In the unfortunate event of a divorce, some states treat marital property differently. In community property states, any property obtained during the marriage must be split evenly, while in states that don’t recognize community property, the split could be up to parties or even the courts.
Not everyone needs a prenuptial agreement, and many people can get married without hiring a lawyer. However, if you’re curious about pre-marriage agreements, need questions answered about the marriage requirements in your state, or have concerns regarding legal issues that have arisen since your wedding day, an experienced family law attorney can help.