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BarnacleBill's avatar

What happens "legally" when you get married?

Asked by BarnacleBill (16035 points ) November 20th, 2010

This question is prompted by this question.

You can either get married in a church or before a judge or justice of the peace. In either circumstance, the minister, judge or JP is licensed by the state to administer an oath to you, and witness your signature, in the same manner a notary will witness your signature on a legal document. In order to get married, you must take out a marriage license, pay certain fees, and in some states have a blood test to prove you’re not marrying your sibling.

Is the marriage license actually a license? If so, what are you licensed to do? Or is it a contract? If so, what dictates its terms?

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7 Answers

Joybird's avatar

It is a statement of joining property and pledging fidelity in order to insure the passing of wealth in the form of inheritance. That’s what that license means. From the moment you sign that if you don’t have a prenup…then half of all the assets are yours.

CyanoticWasp's avatar

It’s several things:
—It’s a permanent* commitment to a single person. That is, you can’t make the same legal commitment to another. (* As permanent as you both agree that it should be.)

—It’s an opportunity, whether you want to use it or not, to change your tax status.

—It’s a commitment to ‘own’ or acknowledge the wife’s offspring from the marriage as one’s own, absent legal challenges to disprove parentage in cases of real or suspected infidelity. (Kind of a double standard that the wife doesn’t have that same commitment to her husband’s potential future offspring, though.)

—It’s a statement of joint ownership of assets, with rights of survivorship.

—There is also an implied guarantee of shared privacy, in that (at least in the States) a spouse cannot be compelled to testify against a spouse in legal matters.

BarnacleBill's avatar

Does the license replace the groom having to post a bond in order to get married? There was a point, up until the mid-1800’s where the groom had to pledge property in order to be able to get married. Most of marriage laws would have originated from a time period were it was difficult for women to work outside the home and support themselves and their children should they become widowed.

laureth's avatar

Marriage, throughout history, has been a contract. The expectations, terms, durability, and number of goats expected as a dowry change ;), but it’s still a contract.

There are a huge number of benefits attached to being able to form this contract. You can read the long version here, or, if you just want the highlights, there are some here and here.

Kayak8's avatar

You automatically get over 1,000 rights that gay couples are not allowed to have.

faye's avatar

It’s the thing that happens before the divorce which requires a lot more legal folderol.

BarnacleBill's avatar

This is interesting; Ohio marriage laws

Marriage is a legal as well as a spiritual and personal relationship. When you state your marriage vows, you enter into a legal contract. There are three parties to that legal contract: 1) you; 2) your spouse; and 3) the state of Ohio. The state is a party to the contract because under its laws, you have certain obligations and responsibilities to each other, to any children you may have, and to Ohio.

What are the obligations of marriage?
It is important for both of you to realize that you have the obligations of mutual respect, fidelity and support of each other. Both parties to the marriage must support themselves and their spouse out of their respective property or by their respective labor. If a married person is unable to do so, as in the case of injury or disease, the other spouse must assist in the support so far as the spouse is able. The duty to support also extends to the parties’ biological and adopted children. Failure to provide support to your spouse or your dependents may result in a civil action to recover the cost of “necessaries” or a criminal charge for non-support of dependents.

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