Getting married? Eight difficult questions to ask your partner before you walk down the aisle
There's much more to getting married than just throwing a lavish party to celebrate with your family and friends.
The actual marriage agreement – the legal contract – is the part that most couples pay the least attention to in the lead up to the wedding. Issues of late RSVPs, last minute dress alterations and fears of the caterers cancelling at a moment’s notice take up most of your time.
It’s not until a few days prior to the event that wedding jitters may start to seep in, but there’s an easy way to put your nerves at rest: talk to your partner and ask them the following eight questions (preferably well-before the wedding). If you’re happy with each other’s answers and you share similar views on the big issues, then you’ll likely have nothing to worry about. Here’s what you should be asking:
- What shape are our finances in?
Finance probably isn’t the most exciting topic of conversation, but did you know that finance is one of the leading causes of divorce? So it’s actually one of the most important discussions to have before getting married. By being honest about your financial assets, you’ll build a practical foundation for your life together. If you avoid talking about money before you tie the knot it’ll only cause conflict in the long run. If you share a similar approach to spending and saving then you’re likely not to be surprised by any money issues in the future.
- What assets do we have?
No one wants to think it’s going to happen to them, but divorce is not uncommon and assets are usually one of the most contentious factors. The issue of who gets what usually relates to assets that have been obtained during your marriage. This can include houses, businesses, art or inheritance amongst other things. If a dispute does occur, the court evaluates what is known as matrimonial property. This is essentially applied to, but not limited to, any assets that were acquired during the marriage.
- Do we have any debt?
If your partner has found themselves in hefty debt before, it could be warning sign as to their approach to money. If you’re a person who never falls behind on payments but your partner is the opposite it could cause huge conflicts in your relationship. It’s important to know that any debt incurred during or before the marriage is likely to become a shared responsibility between you and your partner once you’ve married – even if only one of you signed on the dotted line.
- Would we prefer to combine finances?
Combining your finances isn’t always the wisest move to make early on in a relationship or marriage. If you’re both earning around the same salary and there aren’t any children involved, it might be a good idea to keep separate accounts and simply open a joint account which you can both contribute to.
- If we buy a house together, how should we handle the finances?
Buying a house is a huge moment in anyone’s life. But if you’re looking to purchase a home with your spouse, then there’s one main thing you need to be aware of: the law currently states that if you purchase a property as joint owners, an assumption is made that the proceeds of any sale will be divided equally. However, if the property is only in one person’s name, he or she may be entitled to everything – regardless of who paid what. Also, if you get a joint mortgage and one person can’t afford the repayments, you’re both responsible. This shouldn’t scare you off, it’s just something to be aware of before you consider jumping into debt together.
- Would we consider a prenuptial agreement?
As a way to protect your pre-marriage assets in case of divorce, you may want to consider getting a prenuptial agreement. These signed agreements are used to specify how your assets (which you attained prior to the marriage) would be divided if you were to divorce. There’s such a stigma attached to prenuptial agreements that, if you decide to get one, you assume the marriage is going to fail. But these agreements are used to protect what was yours before your partner came into your life, so they shouldn’t be taken with offence.
- Do we respect privacy?
While you may share most things, there is still room for privacy in a marriage. If your spouse obtains information or documents relating to you without permission, the law can be something of a minefield in terms of privacy. However, the general rule is that where documents such as private emails or transcripts of private conversations have been obtained without permission, your spouse cannot view, copy, distribute, communicate, or use any of the information within. This further applies to the relevant spouse's solicitor.
- How strongly do we feel about higher education for our children?
In today’s society, it’s often assumed that your child will go to university. However, higher education doesn’t come cheap. Before you get married, you should consider whether you want to start saving for your child’s future together. But, what a lot of parents don’t realise is that even if you’re divorced, if your child chooses to go to university, then you’re both legally obliged to support them financially until they end their higher education studies or turn 25.
What questions do you think you should ask your partner before you get married? What question do you wish you’d asked your significant other before you said ‘I do’?
We have more information on the subject of family law here. Join the conversation and tell us what you think.