Things To Consider Before Getting Married

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Things To Consider Before Getting Married

Marriage can be such an exciting prospect - and it’s easy to get caught up in the romance, the dress shopping, and the guest lists.

However, many people make the mistake of neglecting certain legal aspects, from polygamy to taxes.

When planning your wedding, it’s important to consider all the legal aspects of marriage to protect yourself, your spouse, your finances, and your marriage.

If you want to find out what you should consider before getting married, we’ve got you covered. Read on to learn more.


Is it Legal to Marry?

It is always important to check that you can legally marry before you start the wedding planning and spending money on a dress, suit, venue, etc.

First of all, you must not marry certain family members - including your children and parents (including adopted), grandparents and grandchildren, siblings (including half-siblings), aunties and uncles, nieces and nephews. Even if you aren’t aware of the familial relationship, your marriage will be automatically void.

If you are under the age of 16, you can’t legally get married in the UK. However, if you are 16 or 17, you can get married with the consent of your and your partner’s parents or legal guardians.

If you are unable to get consent from your parents but you still want to take the next step in your relationship, you may want to apply to the court for permission. We recommend getting legal advice to help you through this process.

Another reason that you may not marry is if you are already married. Under the Matrimonial Causes Act 1973, polygamous marriage is illegal in England and Wales.


Where Can You Marry?

One of the most important things you need to consider during marriage preparation is the location of the wedding. It’s always recommended to sign a legally binding contract with the venue provider to ensure that everything goes according to plan.

Marriage can take place in a wide range of venues, including:

  • A registry office
  • A church (Church of England)
  • Venues approved by local authorities (e.g hotels)
  • Registered religious buildings
  • A hospital or hospice (in the instance that you/ your partner is in very poor health)
  • A licenced military, air force, or naval chapel
  • A synagogue (if both partners are Jewish)

However, it’s important to note that same-sex couples can only get married in a religious ceremony if the location has the correct registration and if they agree to carry out the marriage. In 2022, same-sex couples can not marry in the Church of England.

In 2022, more and more people are opting for less traditional weddings. If you want to get married abroad, it’s important to research whether your marriage will be considered legitimate by English law.


Should I Get a Prenuptial Agreement?

When planning a wedding, many people decide to sign a prenuptial/ premarital agreement. Although many couples decide to share their finances once they are married, signing a prenuptial agreement can clear the blurred lines if the marriage were to end in divorce and set the right boundaries in terms of finances.

A prenuptial agreement determined how your finances and property will be handled during your marriage and in the event of divorce. This is an effective way of protecting your wealth or your husband/ wife’s finances if the marriage were to end. Prenups tend to be more common in instances where there is a large gap in wealth between the bride and the groom.


What About Taxes?

Before tying the knot, it’s important to consider how getting married will affect your taxes. When married, you’re able to transfer your finances and assets between yourself and your spouse without being impacted by capital gains tax.

If your income is under £41,385, then you can make the most of the Marriage Allowance offered by the government, which reduces tax by a maximum of £252. This was introduced in April 2015 and is available to married couples born after 1935. It allows you to transfer up to £1260 of your Personal Allowance to your husband, wife, or civil partner, reducing the tax owed in the tax year.


How Will Marriage Affect My Children?

If you have children with somebody other than the person you’ll be marrying, you may want to consider how your children’s relationship with them will change after you marry.

Some people will decide to change their legal guardianship after being married - which can have a huge impact on everybody involved. This legal change should be handled sensitively, and open conversation is always encouraged with the child (or children), the biological parents, and the spouse.

When changing legal guardianship, it’s important to seek legal advice beforehand. This is something that we can help with at Bell Lamb & Joynson - contact our Family Law Solicitors today.


Do I Have The Right Documents?

At least 29 days before your marital ceremony, you must give notice. This involved signing a legal statement at your local register office, informing them of your intentions to get married or form a civil partnership.

Upon giving notice, you must get married within 12 months/ one year. To give notice, you’ll need to provide the registry office with a variety of documents, including:

  • A valid passport or UK birth certificate
  • Proof of address
  • Proof of name changes (e.g deed poll)
  • Information about the final venue you plan on getting married at

Numerous documents are accepted for proof of address - you can provide a valid UK/ Irish driving licence, a Council Tax bill or a mortgage statement (from the last 12 months), a recent utility bill (3 months), or a bank statement from the last month. You can also prove your address by providing a letter from your current landlord from the last seven days, including your landlord's signature, name and address - or by providing your current tenancy agreement.

However, if you permanently reside outside the UK, you’ll need to provide details of a contact address in the UK - whether it be a friend, a family member, or your partner.

You will be required to provide additional documents if you have been married before, or if you were in a civil partnership. If you are a widow or a widower, you’ll need to provide your former spouse's death certificate - or if you are divorced, you’ll need to provide either a Decree Absolute or a Final Order.

Suzanne Daley

Suzanne is a Partner and family law specialist and heads our Family Law team. As a member of the Family Law Panel, she is experienced in all aspects of Family Law, Suzanne prides herself in her professional yet approachable style and ability to guide clients through what are often complex and emotional proceedings.

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