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Commitment Issues

Preparing for the big day—and beyond

In the heady time between proposal and honeymoon, it can be tempting to overlook the practicalities of marriage. Many same-sex couples ride the emotional wave of marriage equality all the way to the altar without pausing to consider what happens after they embark on their legally recognized happily ever after.

Before I Do: A Legal Guide to Marriage, Gay and Otherwise provides a road map for all stages of relationships. Author Elizabeth Schwartz, an attorney and LGBT advocate, covers issues like income tax, insurance, and Social Security benefits, as well as property ownership and adoption. The book asks all the questions—including some potentially thorny ones, like those regarding estate planning and prenuptial agreements—that every couple should answer. “I want folks to understand the full complement of legal consequences that come with marriage, as well as those rights marriage does not bring,” says Schwartz.

Along with plenty of invaluable advice, you’ll find insightful commentary from nationally recognized LGBT legal and financial experts, plus case studies from the 20 years Schwartz has specialized in family law. “I’ve been surprised by how many LGBT people think that getting married means they no longer need to have their estate-planning documents in place, or solidify parental rights with an adoption,” Schwartz says. “There’s this sense that marriage is the be-all-end-all for relationships and that there needn’t be any other protections in place once we tie the knot. This book seeks to scale the mountain of misinformation.”

» In 2014, about a third of 1 percent (183,280) of all US marriages were between same-sex couples.
» Average age for same-sex married couples: 47
» Among same-sex couples, 55 percent are female.

–The New York Times, Sept 2016