Found the man of your dreams, check! He proposed, check! Getting ready to start your wedding planning, check! Now what to do about all the legal stuff, like the marriage licence, name changing, home ownership and bank accounts? It can all be simple, or it can be complicated. Everything depends on your preferences and your relationship.
Now before you begin living in matrimony, have you and your future spouse considered doing couples premarital counselling? These are often times given for free by a church, or if you feel less inclined to get help from a religious source you can find couples counselling available with a licensed therapist, this however will not be free. According to Psychology Today, couples who engage in premarital counselling are more likely to work through problems and deal with problems before they become irreconcilable. You can read the article here.
If you decide to forgo the counselling it’s alright, your next step will be to get your marriage licence.
Marriage licences can be purchased from a municipal, city or county registration office. Here you will get an application form to take home and complete. Once you have filled it out, you return to the same office with the completed form and the identification for yourself and your spouse-to-be, pay the fee and you will receive your marriage licence.
If you are getting married out of province or out of the country you have further work to do. If you’re getting married in another province you need to check with the Vital Statistics Office (eg. Vital Statistics New Brunswick) of the province you’re getting married in to ensure that an Ontario Marriage licence is valid there, otherwise after spending all that time and money you might find out that you’re not legally wedded.
If you’re getting married in another country you need to check with the Canadian representative of that country (Canadian Foreign Embassy), to see if the marriage licence is valid in that country. If the licence isn’t, you will have to have a legally binding wedding in Canada before you say “I do” somewhere else.
Additionally, you may need to prove that you’re not currently married, in which case you will also need to apply for a marriage search letter. This letter guarantees that the applicant is not currently legally wedded to anyone else.
Once you have been legally wedded, you can decide whether or not to take your spouse’s last name. Some women opt to hyphenate their married name and their maiden name, but it’s all about personal preference. You can keep your maiden name, but it can be a hassle when you go to book flights or travel because you don’t have the same last name as your spouse.
To change your last name you just need your marriage licence and your current driver’s license or health card. You present these documents to an officer at the Services Ontario Centre within 90 days of your marriage and you can change your name for free. After that you will be required to pay a $25 fee.
Changing your last name doesn’t mean it will change on your birth certificate, it only affects your driver’s license, health card, social insurance card, bank and credit cards. To find a Serviceontario Centre near you click here.
If you and your significant other each have your own dwelling place you will have to decide where you are going to live after you get married. Unless you choose to buy a house together to move into once you are wed.
You can sublet an apartment, or if it’s a condo you own you can rent it out or sell it. This is a big deal and should be discussed in advance of the coming nuptials. Once you know where the two of you are going, you can start building the home of your dreams together.
This may bring about complications, but as long as you are honest with each other and both parties are willing to compromise, it will be one more thing to look forward to.
After you are wed you might consider opening a joint account together with your spouse. In order to do this you both need to visit the bank branch together and sign papers attesting that anything done with the bank account can only be done with the expressed consent of both parties.
Of course you don’t have to do this, many women keep their own bank account open and keep the money they make in a separate account from their husbands. But in a marriage all the money made belongs to the household. Both of you should learn to cooperatively pay for your joint lives.
You can always get advice from your bank on how to work on paying down debts, and other financial responsibilities. But always make these decisions together, and don’t let money come between you.