The Rough Part About Planning for Non-Marital Relationships

When you plan a wedding, there can be a lot of stress involved. First, you figure out a guest list and make sure that EVERYONE who needs to be on the list is on it. After that, you need to find a venue that is affordable and can also accommodate everyone. Once that’s done, you still must find a caterer and make sure that not only is it reasonably priced, but also delicious, and that there is an option for vegetarians.  At the same time, you need to figure out the wardrobe for you, your partner, and the attendants, and the attendants will want input on that. And that doesn’t touch on the other billion things that may come up, both before and on the day!

Once that’s done, you get to have a wedding. There’ll be dancing and food; there’ll probably be some family drama. [Ed: there will definitely be family drama.  It’s like you haven’t even met my family…]  And you get everyone to fuss over how awesome you look and how happy you’ll be. After that, maybe you’ll get a nice honeymoon.

One thing that you probably don’t realize is that once you say, “I do”, you are entitled to well over 1,000 legal benefits; some of them are obvious and some of them might never come up, but you and your spouse have them.

If your plans for your family don’t include marriage, you get to avoid all the troubles that come with planning a wedding. However, you also forgo the many legal benefits that come with marriage.

Now, there are many legal strategies that you can use to get some of the legal benefits that marriage provides. Unfortunately, they do not often include an open bar or a DJ (although I suppose you could always bring an MP3 player [Ed: No one uses MP3 players anymore, sweetheart!] and a bottle of champagne to a notary’s office).

Another drawback is that utilizing these legal strategies also requires you to think about the relationship ending, and how things will unfold at that point. When a relationship is alive, people think that there is no need to worry about what happens when you split up. Weddings don’t discuss the marriage ending, other than by death.  But some of the benefits of being married include requiring, at divorce, a fair and equitable division of property.

If you aren’t married and you haven’t considered planning documents, if your relationship ends and you have not utilized these legal strategies, you may have to depend on courts to figure out a fair division of property (if they will even hear your case).  If you want to play it safe and protect yourself and your partner, you should definitely consider some of the agreements and mechanisms that can provide the benefits of marriage (and if we work on it, I’ll put some music on afterwards and we can have a toast).

All edits are by very helpful partner.

Disclaimer: Nothing in this post is intended as legal advice or to create an attorney-client relationship. If you have any legal concerns, please contact an attorney qualified to practice law in your state or district.