Marriage represents that wonderful time when you make a commitment to another person to hopefully spend the rest of your lives together. There is a lot to plan with a wedding, like the venue, the food, and the guest list. In the middle of all this planning, it is easy to forget that marriage is actually a legal agreement that changes the rights and obligations that you and your spouse have to each other.
Getting a Marriage License in Illinois
A religious ceremony alone does not give a marriage legal recognition in the state of Illinois. The couple also must go to their local county clerk’s office to apply for a marriage license. To obtain a marriage license, you must show a valid ID, identify your parents, state whether you have previously been married and, if so, how that marriage ended, and state whether you are related to each other and, if so, how.
After paying a fee, you will then be issued marriage certificate form and a marriage license and that becomes effective the next day (meaning you cannot get married that day). You then have 60 days to have the marriage solemnized. Once the marriage is solemnized, you must return the certificate to the court within 10 days for it to be legally recognized by the state of Illinois.
The Legal Effects of Marriage
Marriage has several legal benefits. Once you are legally married, you can file your income taxes jointly, which may greatly reduce your annual tax bill. If one spouse is not a U.S. citizen, marriage grants them residency and speeds up the process of citizenship. Being legally married also simplifies estate planning, as by law your spouse is now entitled to many of your assets. Specifically leaving other assets to them can help avoid estate taxes.
Do You Need a Prenuptial Agreement?
While many couples are hesitant to broach the topic, planning for the wedding is actually the ideal time to talk about a prenuptial agreement. No one gets married thinking that they will get divorced, but in a worst-case scenario, these agreements can clearly identify the rights of the parties and how any assets will be distributed. Prenuptial agreements can be ideal vehicles for protecting business interests, inheritances, or large assets obtained before the marriage. They can also clearly identify whether spousal maintenance will be paid following a divorce. It is important to realize that, contrary to popular belief, courts will not enforce a prenuptial agreement if it is exceedingly unfair to either spouse.
Contact an Experienced Illinois Family Law Attorney
Getting married is a wonderful milestone in your life, but in the excitement of planning the ceremony and reception, it can be easy to forget about how your legal relationship also changes after marriage. Depending on your circumstances, you may want to consider a prenuptial agreement, or have questions about how marriage could affect your estate planning. Contact our office today to speak with one of our compassionate DuPage County family law attorneys about your legal needs.