Engagement season is off to a great start! If you’re one of the one’s still contemplating popping the “BIG” question, we’re sure you have some questions about what marriage really is. This post will give you all the answers you need…

Guest Post by Malini Bhatia
Founder and CEO of Marriage.com

So, you want to get married? Congratulations! Hopefully that means you’re in love and looking forward to a long-term partnership. While there’s certainly plenty of info online to help you come up with a memorable proposal or how to plan a great wedding on a budget, there’s less out there about the boring part — that is, the definitions and logistics behind getting married. Fortunately, we’ve got everything you need to know right here:
Types of Marriage
Marriage: Legally (not from religious or social perspectives), a marriage is the consensual union of two people as people into a legal contract establishing them as spouses. Most states in America allow same-sex couples to be married, though marriage licenses still will not be issued in about a dozen states. The legal marital age of consent differs in countries; in the United States, it is generally 18 but can vary based on state law.
Civil Union: Civil unions are an alternative to marriages in states that deny same-sex couples the ability to get married. Civil unions afford many of the same protections, logistics, and benefits of legal marriage, but often only on a state level. Civil unions do not get many of the same recognized benefits on the federal level, and some employers can choose not to recognize them.
Common-Law Marriage: Common-law marriages are unique in the framework of domestic partnership. Because the legal concept of marriage is based around the idea that two people are in a union that shares property, finances, and life decisions, common-law marriages establishes this for couples that have lived together for a period of time defined by the state. Not all states recognize common-law marriages, so if you’re checking to see if you and your partner qualify, it’s important to look up your state’s individual laws.
Marital Paperwork
Prenuptial Agreement: The so-called pre-nup is a legal document or contract binding both partners to a list of agreements prior to marriage. In most cases, this involves the non-transferral of property, assets, and debt upon marriage, even in community property states.
Marriage License: Because married couples are recognized differently for legal and tax perspectives — as well as things like census data — a license must be applied prior to the wedding. This isn’t like applying for a driver’s license where there’s a test, but it still does need to be provided by the city/county of the wedding.
Marriage Certificate: A marriage certificate is different from a marriage license. While the license enables a couple to get married, the certificate is an official recognition of the marriage. It usually arrives in the mail several weeks after the marriage is filed with the county clerk’s office.
Before You Say “I Do”
The above items are the legal things you need to know before you get married. Just remember to check in on the important emotional side of it too: read books, talk to a counselor, and consider the ways that you can begin to share your life — and living space — together. The paperwork is required and the wedding is the fun party, but when all of that is settled, you’ve got a lifetime together…so set yourself up for success!

With Love,
SAMALA

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