Illinois’s Religious Freedom and Marriage Fairness Act, which grants same-sex couples the right to legally marry, goes into effect for all counties on June 1, 2014. In preparation for this historic day, our family law attorneys would like to share some basic legal and financial measures that couples can take to prepare wisely for their marriages.
Obtain a Marriage License
Before getting married, Illinois couples must obtain a marriage license. Obtaining a license is a standard and fairly straightforward procedure. The marrying spouses must apply in person at a local county clerk’s office with valid identification documents (such as a driver’s license or passport) in hand. No blood tests are required, and both parties must be 18 years old or older at the time of application, or 16 or 17 years old with proof of parental consent of the marriage.
There is a small fee associated with the license application (the amount of the fee varies by county), and it may be helpful to call your county ahead of time to see what type of payment forms are accepted. Once you obtain a marriage license, you can get married the day after your license is issued. The officiant performing the marriage ceremony later completes the marriage process by filling out a portion of the license and sending it back to the county clerk’s office.
Change Your Name
If one spouse chooses to change her last name, she may ask to have her original last name changed on the marriage certificate. Please note that this is not a legal name change and other steps such as filling out a name change package at the Illinois Department of Motor Vehicles may need to be taken for the name change to be uniform.
Know Your Finances
Entering into marriage can significantly change a person’s expenditures, which is not necessarily for the better. Some newlyweds may find themselves feeling financially well-off as they begin to notice savings from living together, filing taxes together or sharing a spouse’s health insurance plan. However, in this beginning period, it is easy to lose sight of the costs of the couple’s actual combined expenses and debts. Preparing a detailed, realistic budget prior to the marriage gives each party a point of reference when drafting a budget or an investment strategy as a married couple. It also provides couples with an opportunity to discuss financial priorities concerning the quality of life they wish to lead and the relative importance of paying back debts and accruing joint and individual savings accounts, life insurance policies or retirements plans.
Address Changes in Real Estate Ownership
If one partner owns property prior to entering into the marriage, it is very important to discuss how that property will be shared during the marriage. Putting the home in both parties’ names can have significant legal consequences, both positive and negative, for both the original property owner and the new partner. It is important to recognize that even if real estate is not transferred to the new partner’s name, that new partner may still have a claim to some equity in the property should a divorce occur. It is helpful to consult an attorney who is knowledgeable in asset transfers when deciding how to share property after a marriage.
We at Kathryn L. Harry & Associates, P.C. wish those couples the best who are beginning their lives together. As experienced family law and divorce lawyers though, we know firsthand of the negative consequences that come from poor financial planning prior to and immediately following marriage. If you would like advice on how best to arrange your assets in a marriage or seek other guidance about entering into the marriage process, call our Oak Brook office today at (877) 889-4515 to schedule an appointment.