Most people don’t naturally think of consulting an attorney prior to getting married. The level of trust and emotion is usually at a very high and positive point just prior to marriage, especially if it is a first marriage.
But it is always a good idea to consult with an attorney, however briefly, prior to tying the knot. An experienced family lawyer can explain the legal effects of marriage. One such effect relates to your property owned prior to marriage, and its character after marriage. The attorney can explain the concept of separate property and community property (which arises in so-called “community property states” like Texas, after marriage). Another aspect of marriage has to do with separate and community debts.
Separately, a family attorney can explain the rights and duties of a spouse in marriage or if applicable, civil partnership, including your rights to share in care and support of a spouse or partner, and the resources available for such support. Rights and responsibilities with any children should also be explained. This is especially important if there are children from a prior marriage or relationship.
Marital concepts, duties and benefits are also complicated by the more common occurrence of same-sex unions, with their approval under US constitutional law by the US Supreme Court.
More couples and their families would be well-served to consult with an attorney before their marriage.