When preparing to say “I do,” couples can find themselves both excited and busy. With wedding plans, family expectations, and future planning at the forefront, the legal implications of tying the knot may be an afterthought for many North Carolina couples. However, there are many significant advantages to taking a close look at marital laws in advance of a wedding. Not only can discussing legal matters in advance of marriage prevent potential disaster down the road, but it is a great way to start important conversations about finances, privacy, estate plans and other expectations for those planning to marry.
Couples may not be aware that each state has its own marital property laws. An individual who would like to retain full ownership of an asset or assets should seek clarity on how the marriage might impact their claim on that property. A prenuptial or postnuptial agreement is a helpful legal tool to ensure these interests are protected.
Besides property, expectations should also be discussed before marriage, with legal implications weaved into the conversation. For example, what are the expectations regarding privacy, such as looking at one another’s accounts or tracking their whereabouts? These privacy expectations may be worth putting in writing. Are children part of the plan, and if so, do both parents understand their legal duties to children regardless of the outcome of the marriage? Blended families may have additional things to consider with this, such as the possible adoption of a child from another marriage or the existing co-parenting agreements in place from past relationships.
Discussing legal issues before marriage may seem unromantic to some, but it can make a significant impact on a couple’s future. When a couple has conversations about key issues, and put agreements in place where necessary to protect one or both parties, they can feel safer, more secure, and have more clarity about their decision to marry. Couples looking to explore these issues or to draft an agreement should work with a North Carolina lawyer to understand exactly how family law in the state may impact them.