4 legal advantages to marry or perhaps not

Why do people get married?

Lawyer as I am, it made me think what would be the advantages of being married and not being married, from a purely legal standpoint and simply out of curiosity.

Here are some thoughts.

Being married: legal advantages

From a legal standpoint, here are some advantages to being married with the person you vowed to be with:

1. You are next of kin. In case of any medical emergency or law-related incident, you get to introduce yourself as next of kin to a doctor or a police officer. (Note that lovers are strangers under the law and thus have no business when it comes to sensitive personal matters, such as medical or criminal records. That’s why in TV shows, lovers are not given these information since they are not legally connected.)

2. Your networth will likely increase as your assets/properties will be combined with those of your spouse, i.e. you as spouses will only have one legal personality. The increase is conditioned on your spouse not being in debt prior to the marriage or there is no prenuptial agreement.

3. You are a compulsory heir and stand to inherit from your suppose in case he/she passes on. This is so since any stipulation against it in a prenuptial agreement is void under Philippine laws. (Of course, there is one exception: you are allowed by law to renounce your inheritance.)

4. You can put your spouse in jail for sleeping with another person. Well, there’s no sure way to stop someone from committing infidelity. The next best thing is charging them with the crime of adultery or concubinage, whichever applies.

Not being married: legal advantages

From a leg standpoint, here are some advantages of not being married with your significant other (meaning you’re in a relationship, just not married):

1. Your debts or liabilities are your own, and vice-versa. If your partner gets in debt or incurs liability for whatever reason, that is his/her own personal obligation.

2. Your assets/properties are your own. You do not need the consent or signature of your partner to sell any of your properties, unlike married couples who jointly own conjugal assets unless they have a prenuptial agreement.

3. You are under no legal compulsion to observe marital obligations “to live together, observe mutual love, respect and fidelity, and render mutual help and support” under the Family Code. Yes, you can live separately and see each other only when you want.

4. You cannot be held legally liable if you fall in love with someone else. Unlike married couples who may be charged with adultery or concubinage for extra-marital affairs, there is no similar restriction or penalty on unmarried couples.

Trivia

The history of marriage is an interesting one. Up until the 1800s, marriage was a an economic device to protect, preserve, or grow the wealth of two families. Hence, in many cultures, arranged marriages were fairly common. The Philippines was of no exception.

It was only in the turn of the 1800s up to the present that our modern concept of marriage has evolved thanks to a diamond company who heavily advertised and marketed on what we are familiar with nowadays: the white wedding gown, the big cake, the numerous guests, and so on. There were none of these before the 1800s.

Our concept of marriage changed because one company, who was quite successful, wanted to sell diamond rings and necklaces. Imagine being exposed to varying degrees of messaging that you need to have this kind of wedding so that your marriage will be “happy”.

Well, if the couple can afford it, why not. For the rest, their marriage start of on rocky waters having to pay huge costs for wedding celebrations. If the couple are not straightforward with each other on money matters, they stand to go down the path where marriage jokes will not be funny but painfully relatable.