Marriage Defined By Law

What is Marriage All About?

Marriage is one of the most important experiences of a person's life.  Depending on where you live, there may be laws governing who can get married and how a marriage license can be obtained. Legal marriage is based on contract law. When you marry, you enter into an agreement with your spouse to create a life union. Many People hold marriage ceremonies in churches, mosques or synagogues, you must obtain a state marriage license for the marriage to be legal. Religious beliefs about marriage may differ from the legal definition. No matter what your religious views might be, the only marital rights you have in court are those recognized by the state.

In order to have a legally recognized marriage, a couple has to have a valid marriage license. An application must be filled out in order to get a marriage license, and each state has its own laws regarding who is eligible to receive a license. The legal age to marry varies from state to state; in most states, both parties must be 18 years old in order to marry without their parents' permission. However, in some states, people as young as 12 years old can marry with a parent's permission, though some cases may need the approval of a judge. 

Types of Marriages

The type, functions, and characteristics of marriage vary from culture to culture, and can change over time. In general there are two types: civil marriage and religious marriage.

In terms of legal recognition, most sovereign states and other jurisdictions limit marriage to opposite-sex couples or two persons of opposite gender in the gender binary, and a diminishing number of these permit polygynychild marriages, and forced marriages. In modern times, a growing number of countries and other jurisdictions have lifted bans on and have established legal recognition for same-sex marriageinterracial marriage, and interfaith marriage.

Marriage license  

Marriage license is a document issued, either by a church or state authority, authorizing a couple to marry

Marriage is a fundamental human right according to the Universal Declaration of Human Rights.

Article 16 of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights declares that "Men and women of full age, without any limitation due to race, nationality or religion, have the right to marry and to found a family. They are entitled to equal rights as to marriage, during marriage and at its dissolution. Marriage shall be entered into only with the free and full consent of the intending spouses."

Pre-Marriage contract

A prenuptial agreement is a pre-marriage contract which seeks to set out the rights and responsibilities of the parties to the marriage and perhaps more importantly, sets out how the assets are to be divided in the event of a dissolution of the marriage.
After a couple gets married, a Marriage certificate is proof that a marriage has taken place.

Benefits of Marriage

Besides love and companionship, there are many benefits to marriage, especially in the eyes of the law. Marriage gives husbands and wives special rights that extend to medical care and end-of-life decisions. A hospital must allow you to visit your sick or injured spouse. If your spouse is unable to make medical decisions, the law generally allows you to make those decisions. In some states, the law allows you to take time off from work to care for a sick or injured spouse. You can also make cremation, burial and memorial arrangements for your spouse.

Termination of Marriage

Marriage can terminate by annullmentAn annulment means that a marriage is declared a legal nullity because some legal reasons (an underage spouse, bigamy, mental incompetence of one party, lack of consent -force or fraud).

In most societies, the death of one of the partners terminates the marriage, and in monogamous societies this allows the other partner to remarry, though sometimes after a waiting or mourning period. A marriage will also be terminated through divorce

Interesting Numbers about Marriage

The demographics of marriage have changed dramatically in the last half-century, with the median age for a first marriage increasing since the 1950s. Divorce and remarriage rates have also increased over the last 50 years. Of people born from 1935 to 1939, 21 percent of men and 51 percent of women were married by age 20. Of people born from 1975 to 1979, 8 percent of men and 18 percent of women were married by age 20. In 2003, the median marriage age was 27 years old for men and 25 years old for women. Clearly, young people are choosing to wait longer than their parents before taking the plunge into marriage.

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