Articles Posted in Marriage

Photo of "To Do" list written in black ink on white paper with green markerYoung New Jerseyans are waiting longer to walk down the aisle, get married and start families, according to the 2011-2015 American Community Survey. And that’s if they get married at all.

Data from the survey indicated that the median age of New Jerseyans getting married for the first time increased by about one year since the last survey was conducted and that the number of residents that have never married has increased by about 5%.  Read “The slow death of marriage in New Jersey” to learn about the factors contributing to this trend as well as the future financial implications it can have.

naem-change-400-04417572dChanging your name in New Jersey requires court approval following a process designed to ensure the name change isn’t being requested for unlawful or deceptive purposes. The exception to this is a name change due to marriage and/or divorce.

Adopting your spouse’s name after marriage or resuming your maiden name after divorce can be effected socially simply by using your new name. Officially, however, there are certain agencies, such as the Social Security Administration and the Motor Vehicle Commission, you must notify in order to change your name. Your certified marriage license serves as proof of your right to use your spouse’s name if you so choose. In relation to divorce, your desire to resume use of your maiden name should be stated in the divorce decree. This document can then be used when applying to the appropriate agencies for your name change.

Planning a wedding or negotiating a divorce are complex, emotional events, so it would be easy to overlook an agency or institution you should notify about your pending name change. This name change checklist can help.

prenuptials-400-08291531dThere was a time when prenuptial agreements were associated mostly with celebrities and the very wealthy. Today, however, couples frequently wait longer to marry. They enter these unions after first building careers and accumulating financial assets independently. Conversely, they also bring individual financial liabilities to the relationship as well. As a result, prenuptial agreements have become more commonplace now than they were with previous generations.

Discussions about money can be uncomfortable for even the most compatible couples, yet financial issues are often cited as at least a contributing factor in relationship break-ups. The time to discuss who owns what and how money should be handled during the marriage is before the couple says, “I do.”

What should be included in a prenuptial agreement depends not only on the terms the couple has agreed upon, but also on the laws governing marital property, divorce and alimony in the state where the couple resides. Jamie Schoen’s article, “5 Things to Think About When Considering a Prenup,” poses questions couples should ask themselves before drawing up this legal agreement.

children of same-sex marriage; photo of young girl kneeling on park benchWhen the U.S. Supreme Court handed down its decision that paved the way for legally-sanctioned, same-sex marriages, it granted couples in those unions equal accessibility to some of the same rights traditional married couples enjoyed. These rights include, but are not limited to, such things health insurance coverage under family plans, social security and insurance survivor’s benefits, and involvement in end-of-life medical decisions. While the Court’s ruling did protect spouses in same-sex relationships, it seems to have failed to go far enough to protect children of those relationships.

In traditional relationships, there is such a thing as marital presumption. This presumption means that with children born into a marriage, a legal parent-child relationship is recognized between the children and their mothers’ husbands regardless of the existence of any biological relationship between the two. This same presumption does not exist for children of same-sex marriages.

Beyond denying certain financial and health benefits to children of same-sex marriage, the lack of this presumption could prove disruptive to the child’s family life as well. In traditional marriages, if something were to happen to a child’s biological mother, the father would still be considered a legal parent. That is not the case in same-sex marriages where the non-biological parent has no marital presumption. Adoption is not always the answer either since a number of states fail to recognize adoptions by same-sex spouses.

marriage-waiting-periodCouples looking to marry in the State of New Jersey must apply for a marriage license and sit out the 72-hour mandatory waiting period before the license is issued. For most couples, that three-day waiting period is a minor interruption in their quest to begin their new life together as a family. However, there are certain emergency situations, such as illness or military assignment, where the delay can be a major hindrance. Under circumstances such as these, the waiting period can be waived by a Superior Court Judge.

The process for applying for a waiver is feasible under most conditions, but if one of the partners is suffering a terminal illness, the time it takes the other partner to seek the waiver can be significant. That may soon change as a result of a new bill, approved earlier this month by a State Assembly panel, that would make it easier for a couple dealing with a terminal illness to obtain a waiver. Read Matt Friedman’s story, “Don’t make terminally ill patients wait to get married, N.J. Assembly panel says” for details.

pre-nupsA pre-nuptial agreement may not conjure up the most romantic thoughts, but in today’s world of career-oriented couples who wait later in life to marry, it can be a very reasonable and even responsible step to take before the wedding. Pre-nuptial agreements, if properly drawn up and executed, can provide protection for the assets of both parties. Like with any legal agreement, however, it isn’t a good idea to blindly sign on the dotted line; make sure you understand what is being asked and offered in the agreement. For an idea of what to do if your significant other asks you to sign a prenuptial agreement, read Jillian Kramer’s article,  “He Asked You to Sign a Pre-Nup … Now What?” appearing in the online edition of Brides magazine.

married%20hands.jpgWaiting to marry appears to be a growing trend in this country and one that is expected to continue for the forseeable future. The average age for women marrying for the first time is approximately 27 years, while for men it is about 29 years, according to a recent article in AARP Magazine.(1)

One reason behind this trend is that other events traditionally considered signs of adulthood are being postponed. Young people are waiting until they complete their education and establish themselves in the workforce before settling down. This in itself is taking longer as more people, especially women, are staying in school to pursue advanced degrees. Other contributing factors are alternative methods for starting families (i.e., adoption, surrogacy), and the fact that most people no longer believe marriage is essential to financial security.(2)

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Gov. Chris Christie abandoned his appeal of a State Superior Court judge’s ruling to legalize same-sex marriages in New Jersey putting an end to a long-fought battle in the State – at least for now. (1)

The Governor’s decision to drop his appeal was announced just hours after the first same-sex couples exchanged vows to celebrate a State Supreme Court decision to uphold the lower court’s ruling, on a provisional basis, granting gay and lesbian couples the right to marry, effective 12:01 a.m. on October 21. The Court is expected to make a final ruling sometime next year.

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Although the State Supreme Court last week upheld a lower court decision to allow gay marriage, the issue has yet to be totally resolved. Still, gay couples throughout New Jersey are making arrangements to take advantage of this ruling as soon as possible. (1)

This past summer, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act of 1996 (DOMA), saying it violated equal liberties protected by the Fifth Amendment. In that decision, the Court ruled gay couples involved in state-sanctioned marriages would be granted the same federal rights and protections that traditionally married couples enjoy. While that decision did not say all states must recognize gay marriages, a New Jersey Superior Court judge this past September ruled that New Jersey’s ban on gay marriage went against this Supreme Court ruling and that such marriages would be allowed in the State effective October 21. (1)

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credit-cards.pngWhen we lose a spouse or parent, it is not uncommon for loved ones to be left to clear up his/her affairs and financial matters. It is natural to want to do this quickly while mourning, but our haste could lead to taking responsibility for matters for which we aren’t liable. For instance, when a loved one dies leaving behind credit card debt, are we responsible for its repayment? Generally speaking we are not, although there are exceptions. (1)

In community property states debts, like assets, accumulated during the marriage can be considered jointly owned. In that case, a surviving spouse possibly could be liable for credit card debt incurred by his or her deceased spouse. (1) New Jersey is not a community property state; it is a common law state. Therefore in this State, debt is the liability of the person who signed for and incurred it. (2)

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