Research shows that marriage rates are declining, people are marrying later in life, and more people are opting to live together than in the past. This trend is due to in part to changing attitudes towards marriage and childrearing. In my previous post, I discussed six benefits of marriage that are important to be aware of if you are considering tying the knot with your significant other. Briefly, I explained how married couples enjoy some tax breaks and have some advantages with respect to IRA contributions and rollovers, pension plans, and Social Security benefits. There are several other benefits of marriage which should be weighed carefully before coming to a final decision. As always, it is in your best interests to consult with a professional marriage law attorney if you wish to know how the law applies to your specific situation.
Eight Benefits of Marriage
- Health insurance savings. The cost of plans for spouses are normally cheaper than the cost of purchasing insurance for two individuals separately. This is true even for employer plans, and is helpful if one spouse is unemployed or self-employed and has no access to employer-sponsored insurance.
- Incapacity of partner. Legal spouses have greater access to their hospitalized spouses than do significant others. The same is true for blood relatives. In the event that a court has to appoint someone to make health care decisions, a blood relative or spouse will normally take precedence over an unmarried partner.
- Right of inheritance. If your spouse dies without a will, state law will determine where the assets go. State law generally gives spouses, parents, and siblings of a deceased person priority over significant others.
- Wrongful death. A surviving spouse can sue a negligent person for the wrongful death of the other spouse. Florida has no statewide domestic partner law that provides the basis for a right to sue in such circumstances.
- Advantage in purchasing a home. Mortgage lenders often prefer married couples to unrelated parties when deciding whether or on what terms to grant a mortgage loan. The combined income and the lifelong commitment demonstrated by the marriage are considered more desirable traits in a borrower.
- Cheaper auto and homeowners insurance. The pooling or bundling of insurance needs generally reduces the overall costs. Many insurance companies give multi-car discounts, multi-policy discounts, and cheaper rates to married couples as opposed to single individuals.
- Financial protection in a break-up. Although Florida recognizes common law marriages entered into in other states, there is no legal recognition in Florida for common law marriages entered into prior to 1968. In the event of a divorce, spouses have a right to a portion of the marital property. This is not the case if an unmarried couple breaks up, absent a contract establishing ownership rights. State divorce laws do not apply to unmarried couples.
- Better planning for the long term. Studies show that the commitment that married people have towards financial goals results in up to 4% more wealth annually from sources such as homeownership and investing for the future.
In the absence of a statewide law allowing domestic partnerships in Florida, many of these advantages of marriages are not available for singles. Some cities and counties in Florida have domestic partner registries with certain associated benefits, so if you have a question as to your particular situation, you should consult with a South Florida Marriage Law Attorney. The Law Offices of James S. Cunha, P.A. have experience in all aspects of family law and serve the legal needs of residents in Okeechobee, Martin, Palm Beach, Broward, St. Lucie, Hendry, and Miami-Dade Counties. Call today at (561) 429-3924, or toll free at 1 (800) 558-1227 for a consultation.