Social Question

Akua's avatar

Would you divorce for Benefits?

Asked by Akua (4730points) October 10th, 2015

I was speaking with a friend earlier today and she is in a complicated situation. After discussing it with her at length, I of course thought about taking this question to my fellow fluther folks, so here it is.

Say you were married and you and your spouse loved each other but financially things were difficult. Would you divorce your spouse to get benefits that would help you out financially? For instance your Aunt dies and leaves you $50,000 in her will but it stipulates that you cannot inherit if you are married? Or, (like in her situation), she is not eligible for financial aid to finish her college degree, unless she is single (her husband earns too much for her to qualify but doesn’t earn enough to afford to pay for her to go). Should she divorce him so she can go to school?
I feel that especially where marriage is concerned, it should not be trivialized based on money. It should mean more than that. Maybe I am being idealistic and others would disagree, stating that securing a future of financial freedom is detrimental to a successful union (although I strongly disagree). What are some of your opinions out there?

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25 Answers

SQUEEKY2's avatar

I think to put that kind of a clause inner getting the money is beyond dumb,but do they have to stop being a couple if they do get a divorce?
If not then get it go to school then get remarried after she gets her schooling.

JLeslie's avatar

People certainly have done it. It would be very very hard for me to do it, but I think I would seriously consider it if it was something that would help my child. I don’t have children, I’m just using it as an example. To finish college seems like a good reason to consider it too. My fear would be that dissolving the marriage makes the bond a little weaker. I know people will argue it’s just a piece of paper, but most marriages go through some hard times and I think the paper helps keep it together.

People argue one thing that negatively impacted black people in America is that they, if financially strapped, could get more government benefits if they were not married. The benefit was available to all races obviously, but at the time when many if the government services were being created black people had higher percentages in the lower socio-economic classes, so it seems to have impacted them significantly culturally. I say seems, because that’s one theory anyway that some people believe impacted the black family.

My only point really is that it is a shame to have to make such a choice.

Akua's avatar

No they would not have to stop being a couple. But my thinking is this.. who is to say after she gets her degree and finds a great job that she will want to re-marry him? Suppose after this great sacrifice she decides to leave him out in the cold? It just seems like nothing should be a good enough reason to break your vow unless you two hate each other or their is abuse of some kind.

Akua's avatar

@JLeslie I don’t agree with the part “The benefit was available to all races obviously, but at the time when many if the government services were being created black people had higher percentages in the lower socio-economic classes,”. When most government benefits were created, black people were not allowed to apply let alone benefit. These benefits were set up and given to poor whites. Later on, black were allowed to benefit though, and I do agree with you on the part that, once allowed to receive these benefits, it did a great deal to divide the black Family. But nonetheless, it is what it is. If it were for the sake of a child’s education or their future, I would probably do it. But this is for her to go to school. She has no children and she is in her 40’s.

JLeslie's avatar

@Akua I wasn’t aware it wasn’t available to everyone, I’ll have to read up on that.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Wow, controlling your “loved ones” from the grave. It makes me wonder what this grandmama was like while she was still alive.

My loyalty would lie first and foremost with my partner, my spouse. As I consider legal marriage merely a civil exercise in order to satisfy a state which could care less what happens to us, I would naturally divorce her—another civil exercise with little or no meaning to me—if it meant significant benefit to my spouse and my future family.

My vow to her and hers to me,our love and dedication, and the way we conduct ourselves make our marriage, not some legal document. As an agnostic, even the church rituals, traditions—the more elaborate the better—carry more significance with me. But most importantly the wedding feast, both of us surrounded by our friends, the wine and food signifying the bounty of our home, the love we share with our friends and each other. This is what is important, not the cold comfirmation of a state and it’s legalities.

Of course I would divorce her. But getting her to agree with it would be the real challenge.

JLeslie's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus I would guess someone who is married has at least some care about being legally married.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@JLeslie It wouldn’t change a thing.

msh's avatar

This is on the same par with having more kids to get more $ monthy benefits.
Or couples not marrying to get more aid for the kids- and themselves- while living together as a family.
Go in to financial aid dept of school to see what grants monies are available, then pay back on loans like everyone else. There is a high number of grants that go without recipients, due to lack of those who apply. It takes work and research to make it happen. One must go after these things if it’s worth it to them.

JLeslie's avatar

@Espiritus_Corvus My point is, why get married in the first place?

JLeslie's avatar

@msh Not quite. Bringing another life into this world is pretty damned important, and people who do that for more money, without a real commitment or desire to rear the child aren’t quite the same as trying to work the system for an education. However, I do agree both are working the system.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

A wedding is the ceremony that confirms and publicizes the contract of marriage. I’m big on ceremony and tradition and take contracts both written and otherwise very seriously, but I don’t see how a state confirmation of that contract is significant. So insignificant, as a matter of fact, that I’ve had no problem licensing my two marriages with the state just to avoid potential problems with family. But left to my own devices, and if it didn’t hurt us in any way or affect our freedoms as citizens, I probably wouldn’t consider licensing as being on the top of the list as things to do.

JLeslie's avatar

You can have a wedding without the civil contracts.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Precisely. And a marriage as well.

msh's avatar

I wish child creation was a beautiful thing for all JLeslie, however, exposure when working in the field trying to better a family’s future is where you can see how a large number of people live as they think. Which is not the way many would like to see it. Dismaying as it seems, life isn’t the way we wish it to be, especially for those kids and many who use the situation in terms of financial gains rather than devotion towards raising their kids. Therefore seldom have any desire to change a thing. Try working to get people motivated to give their child a better chance in life. I hope things turn out better than they have been. It feels great when it’s successful, which is why it feels so great: it doesnt happen often. Feels like winning the lottery.
Marriage, like having children, is great in theory, but you are dealing with human beings. Goals and wins are different for many. I guess conscience and ‘Doing The Right Thing’ aren’t the means all choose to achieve their desired results. In this situation, funding for school is being spoken about in terms which some question right/wrong, legal/ illegal, moral/ Which, is their own discussion where their own beliefs and personal accountability will determine their own successes or failures.

_Seek_'s avatar

Legal marriage has some nice tax benefits. That’s about it.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

Legal marriage also enables the working spouse to share in corporate health insurance benefits that they may not get if not married. This is huge in a country without proper national health insurance and is the primary reason why I am for the legalization of civil marriages among all people, an exercise to which I would otherwise attach no importance for myself or others.

On the other hand, for people receiving Social Security retirement benefits, being legally married can reduce their monthly income. For many elderly lovers, this is a reason to not legally get married and I agree with that as well. Why should the benefits of an income insurance policy one has been paying into for decades be reduced because two of the insured happen to believe that civil marriage is the right thing? This policy is absolutely ridiculous and just another reason not to pay the beneficiaries full benefits. In this case, civil marriage becomes a weapon of the federal government against its own people, not a benefit.

JLeslie's avatar

Many companies now give health benefits to SO’s who live together. In fact, companies were extending benefits to same sex partners, and then there was a little bit of a backlash from opposite sex not married partners that it wasn’t being extended to them in some cases. Now, with gay marriage legal, it will be interesting to see how that all evolves.

I hate health insurance through employers. That’s a terrible thing we have here in the US.

janbb's avatar

Getting a divorce could cost potentially as much as the tuition would and could have powerful emotional consequences. It seems misguided to me.

keobooks's avatar

If I got terminal cancer, I’d hate for my husband and daughter to have to foot the bill for hundreds of thousands of dollars. I’d hat the idea of them not only losing me, but losing our house and all our assets and my husband paying off my medical debt for the rest of his life.

If I could get away with it, I’d divorce my husband so he wouldn’t be responsible for my debt after I died. But I hear that lots of couples try this and now they investigate these situations. Then my husband would still pay my medical bills and would have to pay a huge fine or even go to prison for fraud.

I just hope I die quickly with no lengthy and expensive medical treatment that would financially ruin my family.

Espiritus_Corvus's avatar

@janbb It could if it was contested. The paperwork can be done at home and registered with the courts by the couple in most states today. I wouldn’t do it for the reasons cited above if my spouse wasn’t in total agreement. That’s where marrying a smart, good person who you never give a reason to distrust you pays off. Why else marry, if don’t have that?

I believe we all have the right to an education if we qualify academically—I’m not for lowering academic standards. If you live in a country such as the U.S. where this is not a right, I believe one has right to do whatever it takes to get one. For a country not to use it’s tax money to invest in itself is corrupt—it stinks of corruption and servitude.

This is practical and solves a lot of problems. Don’t raise taxes, create more taxpayers instead. Use the available resources and give your citizens the opportunity to reach their potentials and live productive, happier lives. The way we do it is stupid and the models for this are already out there and working in places such as Scandinavia and certain countries in Europe.

JLeslie's avatar

I know in FL it’s not very expensive to dissolve a marriage, and can be done quickly if there are no children. As long as both people agree on everything it’s relatively easy. It still takes some fortitude and emotional effort though. I witnessed my roommate’s divorce. I signed as a witness in the judges chambers. 1,2,3 done. I was stunned at how all of a sudden it was all done. Her husband wasn’t even there, because he had already signed everything. I think the whole thing cost a few hundred dollars then. It probably went up at least a little bit since then.

It costs a little money to get remarried again later. Also, your income tax possibly is impacted by your marital status. You would need to evaluate all the costs both financial and emotional.

I think people who bother to get married, usually have an emotional connection to what marriage and the legal tie represents. Breaking it will most likely have unforeseen consequences emotionally.

msh's avatar

You know what keeps popping up in my mind? What ifs? What if they do divorce and vow to continue on as before. What if someone comes along who perhaps shares an interest, or develops one?
What if the: “it just happened when we were separated at that time.” Substitute out the word separated with ‘not married’. Does that make it easier?
What if one decides that the college career has changed things too much- too much to want to stay for one or both?
Are people so sure of their bonds that they could definitely shun any temptation?
What about those little things that couples have? Traits that drive the other crazy normally. Would they start a big fight, with the element of ‘until death’ is gone?
What if jealousy rears it’s ugly head?
I know that things like this come up with married couples, but do -divorced but still promised-couples handle it differently?
Then there is always both sets of parents who may wonder why they spent the money on a wedding- if this was going to be the outcome?
Wow. Extra worrying stress on top of all the other baggage. It would be awfully tough.
Just thinkin’...

JLeslie's avatar

@msh They wouldn’t have to tell people they got divorced. In some ways I agree with the idea that the bond is between the two people. If two people present themselves as married, I don’t ask them to prove it with documentation, I accept them as married.

I do think the document helps keep people together during difficult times, but mostly it is ones own commitment to the union, valuing the time already spent together, and the difficulty that comes with breaking the relationship apart, that usually keeps people together.

kritiper's avatar

Fringed benefits? Maybe…

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