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As discussed in my recent blog post: “The New Fashion Trend: Marriage?” , Many couples seem to be saying “I Do” before ascertaining whether their partner is really the one they want to spend the rest of their life with.  This is likely caused by the fact that it is so easy to reverse the action of getting married by filing for divorce. Consequently, divorce rates continue to be on the rise while long-lasting marriages are almost unheard of.

However, it’s possible that many who jump in and out of these quick marriages fail to realize that many things change legally once you are married; you and your family’s rights will change significantly once you say “I Do”.   Below are 5 things that you probably want to consider before you take the big leap into marriage:

5. CREDITWORTHINESS

Once you are married, you and your spouse are considered to be one unit. For this reason,when making a major purchase such as a new home or car, you and your spouse’s credit will likely be examined together.   Accordingly, if your spouse has “bad credit”, unless your credit is “top notch”, you will likely be considered to have “bad credit” as well.   This could ultimately result in credit being denied or granted at a higher interest rate.  This also means that if you and your spouse divorce, guess what?? Their debt is your debt.  So, you could end up walking out of the marriage with a lot more debt than you came in with, even debt that you didn’t incur.

4. WHAT’S MINE IS YOURS

It is true that whatever you had prior to marriage and whatever you inherit or receive as a gift during marriage belongs to you as your separate property.  However, what most don’t understand is that if you increase the value of your separate property during your marriage, chances are your spouse is entitled to some portion of it.  Therefore, if you own a business or shares in stock prior to marriage and use your time, knowledge, and effort to generate income from it and/or produce success during your marriage, a portion of the value will be contributed to your Ex upon divorce. (The exception of course being if you signed a premarital agreement).

3. SUPPORT

This one is common knowledge, but I thought I’d mention it anyway.  If you and your spouse were to divorce, you could possibly end up paying Spousal support for them in the amount and duration that is decided by the court.  This amount will be based upon the standard of living during your marriage, the income of both spouses, the length of marriage, etc.

** Note: contrary to popular belief, the gender of each spouse is irrelevant. Therefore, you “Independent women” who happen to make more money than your spouse could be liable for support of your spouse should your marriage end.

2. INHERITANCE

Marriage is an institution that creates kinship; after marriage, your spouse is considered your “next of kin”.  What does this mean? It means that what’s yours is theirs.  Translation= If you precede them in death, they get the majority of everything you have, if not all of it. (Unless of course you have testamentary instruments that reflect otherwise, but even these could not prevent them from taking their “community share”.)

1. MEDICAL DECISIONS

This by far is the most important.  Since upon marriage, your spouse becomes your next of kin, they are ultimately responsible for your support and well-being in the event that something were to happen to you and a serious medical decision needs to be made. This could mean: “Your life is in their hands”.   The issues related to this usually arise in situations similar to those we frequently see in lifetime movies where spouse “A” is the beneficiary on a life insurance plan that will pay thousands or hundreds of thousands of dollars to spouse “A” upon the death of spouse “B”.    Spouse “B” coincidentally gets seriously injured and is facing death on their hospital bed.  The doctor then comes in and asks spouse “A”, “Should we perform the surgery (or take whatever other measures are necessary) to save spouse “B”’s life?  Spouse “A” then says “No, spouse “B” has endured enough trauma and shouldn’t suffer anymore. Of course, spouse “B” dies, spouse “A” gets paid, and moves on with their life.  Unfortunately this doesn’t only happen in the movies.  It happens in real life frequently.

………if none of the other points made you think twice, this one should. You just might want the person who has control over your life to be one that you know, love, and trust to have your best interest at heart, not someone who you’ll divorce after 2 days or remain in a “status only” marriage with for whatever reason you choose (the kids, embarrassment of divorce, etc.)

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