Wednesday, September 13, 2006

#1 What is Marraige?

#1 Marriage Basics, What is Marriage?

By Attorney Terry Bankert , Flint MI. Divorce, Custody, Child Support, Alimony!

The CPS Courier , Concerned Pastors for Social Action in Flint MI, has offered me the opportunity to share with you my thought about Divorce and Family Law In Geneses County MI USA. I am very grateful. I try to focus my divorce client to look at what is in the best for their children and what is fair. Best and fair can be understood by most people in a divorce with a little education. But before we talk of divorce we should talk about marriage. Here I give the secular view.

What is Marriage?

Most states define marriage as a civil contract between a man and woman to become husband and wife.

The moment a man and woman marry, their relationship acquires a legal status. Married couples have financial and personal duties during marriage and after separation or divorce. State laws determine the extent of these duties. As the United States Supreme Court said about marriage in 1888: "The relation once formed, the law steps in and holds the parties to various obligations and liabilities."

Of course, marriage is a private bond between two people, but it is also an important social institution.

Today, society also recognizes marriage as:
a way to express commitment, strengthen intimate bonds, and provide mutual emotional support;
a (comparatively) stable structure within which to raise children;
a financial partnership in which spouses may choose from a variety of roles. Both spouses may work to support the family, the husband may support the wife, or the wife may support the husband.

As our society becomes more complex, there is no longer a short answer to the question "What is marriage?" Definitions and opinions of the proper functions of marriage continue to change. The women's rights movement and gay rights movement have changed some people's ideas of marriage and created new forms of relationships, including "domestic partnerships" and "civil unions" for same-sex couples. Marriage will remain, but it will also continue to evolve.

Marriage Rights and Benefits

Whether or not you favor marriage as a social institution, there's no denying that it confers many rights, protections, and benefits -- both legal and practical. Some of these vary from state to state, but the list typically includes:

Tax Benefits

Filing joint income tax returns with the IRS and state taxing authorities.
Creating a "family partnership" under federal tax laws, which allows you to divide business income among family members.

Estate Planning Benefits

Inheriting a share of your spouse's estate.
Receiving an exemption from both estate taxes and gift taxes for all property you give or leave to your spouse.

Creating life estate trusts that are restricted to married couples, including QTIP trusts, QDOT trusts, and marital deduction trusts.

Obtaining priority if a conservator needs to be appointed for your spouse -- that is, someone to make financial and/or medical decisions on your spouse's behalf.
Government Benefits

Receiving Social Security, Medicare, and disability benefits for spouses.

Receiving veterans' and military benefits for spouses, such as those for education, medical care, or special loans.

Receiving public assistance benefits.

Employment Benefits

Obtaining insurance benefits through a spouse's employer.

Taking family leave to care for your spouse during an illness.

Receiving wages, workers' compensation, and retirement plan benefits for a deceased spouse.

Taking bereavement leave if your spouse or one of your spouse's close relatives dies.
Medical Benefits

Visiting your spouse in a hospital intensive care unit or during restricted visiting hours in other parts of a medical facility.

Making medical decisions for your spouse if he or she becomes incapacitated and unable to express wishes for treatment.

Death Benefits

Consenting to after-death examinations and procedures.
Making burial or other final arrangements.

Family Benefits

Filing for stepparent or joint adoption.

Applying for joint foster care rights.

Receiving equitable division of property if you divorce.

Receiving spousal or child support, child custody, and visitation if you divorce.

Housing Benefits

Living in neighborhoods zoned for "families only."

Automatically renewing leases signed by your spouse.

Consumer Benefits

Receiving family rates for health, homeowners', auto, and other types of insurance.

Receiving tuition discounts and permission to use school facilities.

Other consumer discounts and incentives offered only to married couples or families.

Other Legal Benefits and Protections

Suing a third person for wrongful death of your spouse and loss of consortium (loss of intimacy).

Claiming the marital communications privilege, which means a court can't force you to disclose the contents of confidential communications between you and your spouse during your marriage.

Receiving crime victims' recovery benefits if your spouse is the victim of a crime.

Obtaining domestic violence protection orders.

Obtaining immigration and residency benefits for noncitizen spouse.

Visiting rights in jails and other places where visitors are restricted to immediate family.


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