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Marriage licenses -pros and cons

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The Texas Trigger Posted: Wed, Jun 20 2012 5:13 AM

So I just got engaged, and I have made it ardently clear that, out of principle, we will not be attaining a marriage license. I have been trying to do a little digging, but I think the powers that be have very purposefully made such a task difficult.

I found this old post

http://mises.org/Community/forums/t/9848.aspx

but no one replied to it, and some of the assertions are either unclear or unverified. I was hoping that some of you might know a little more of the details about marriage licenses and what exactly they stipulate.

Is there any truth in the assertion that the state is actually considered the primary parent for your children? Obviously, the state may take your children from you if they deem you to be a bad parent, but what if the state simply doesn't like you or your political opinions? Legally speaking, is this enough to have them taken from you?

Also, what are the pros and cons tax wise, and can all of the benefits of a marriage license be arranged through private contracts done through some sort of estate attorney?

any info or links would be helpful

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Anenome replied on Wed, Jun 20 2012 5:18 AM

The state should not be involved in marriages, true. But it's not immoral to play along on something like this...

I suppose if you live together long enough you'd be common-law married. It's like 7 years in CA I think?

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Wheylous replied on Wed, Jun 20 2012 5:35 AM

Good point with the common law idea.

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First off congrats.

The piece you linked seems a bit sensationalistic, and as you said unverified.

Regardless, while marriage is indeed a personal relationship, it is very much a union that is a signal in relationship to the community at large.  

On the philosophical / quasi legal level (and I'll try and dig up examples if you want)

Frankly, I think a more traditional look at marraige (from various cultures, creeds, etc) isn't so much as showing that you are using the state as some arbitor in anything, but you are showing the relevant community a new indivisible functioning unit / family relationship (and to at least some degree, property relationship) that is not to be messed with so easily.  If you look at past examples even the kings, etc didn't try to replace the families - they just killed the husbands off if they thought they could get away with it to start their own family or enslaved massive populations after wiping out the opposing armies  (ex: King David and Bathsheba, The Trojan Women) - but it was never officially a sanctified act (the non slavery part I mean).

Other than that, if you are tied to any specific community, church, religion,  family or something like that which you value I would see how their customs of marriage relate to how they want the state involved in it.  If they are against it, it would probably be a good clue to actually start being seriously doubtful on whether you should get a state license, otherwise it may be a good idea just to do what is most practicle / harmonious to the situation at hand.  Keep in perspective the actual community you care about first, not the state.

 

 

Also, what are the pros and cons tax wise, and can all of the benefits of a marriage license be arranged through private contracts done through some sort of estate attorney?

Tax-wise, claiming marriage is almost always going to be better - assuming you mean it to be a permanant commitment, particularly if you start caliming children as dependants.    Still though see a lawyer for a more personal and professional look at this if this concerns you.

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Autolykos replied on Wed, Jun 20 2012 10:45 AM

Congratulations on your engagement! smiley

The Texas Trigger:
Is there any truth in the assertion that the state is actually considered the primary parent for your children?

I think this does capture the core historical idea behind the state - that it's the primary parent of everyone under it. I think the state arose from elders asserting ownership over their offspring. See the Roman law concept of patria potestas for an example of this. The territorial aspect of the state follows from pre-state kinship groups occupying territories themselves.

The Texas Trigger:
Obviously, the state may take your children from you if they deem you to be a bad parent, but what if the state simply doesn't like you or your political opinions? Legally speaking, is this enough to have them taken from you?

In the United States today, children can be legally removed from their homes if their parents are judged to be or have been "abusing" them. The question then is what constitutes "abuse". I don't see anything to prevent a judge from interpreting e.g. Neo-Nazism per se as constituting "abuse" of children. Ultimately, if the Supreme Court were to uphold such an interpretation, then a legal precedent would be established. However, I know of no statute explicitly authorizing the removal of children from their homes simply due to their parents' political opinions.

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Autolykos replied on Wed, Jun 20 2012 11:03 AM

Regarding marriage licenses directly:

First there's the concept of the civil registry - a government repository of records indicating different individuals' "civil status". "Civil status" means "the rights that an individual currently possesses". Traditionally, married couples had different rights from unmarried individuals.

But note that the existence of a civil registry in no way implies that one must obtain permission from the government in order to marry in the first place. All that it would require is for one to apply for a certificate of the marriage after it took place (if one wanted to enjoy the additional civil rights that a marriage traditionally entailed).

In Medieval Britain, marriage licenses were religious in nature, as marriage was considered an affair of the Church. Certainly a private religious institution is within its rights to require certain conditions before considering a couple in its congregation to be validly married. However, with the establishment of the Church of England in the 16th century, marriage (and hence marriage licenses) became an affair of the British state.

Marriage licenses in the United States, however, had really nothing to do with this. According to Wikipedia, marriage licenses were instituted in the US during the mid-19th century to prevent "mixing of the races". That is to say, marriage licenses in the US have a fundamentally racist origin. More recently, of course, they've been used to prevent homosexual couples who consider themselves married from enjoying the same additional civil rights enjoyed by heterosexual couples who consider themselves married.

From a "reformist" standpoint, I'd support the abolition of marriage licenses, but as that would hardly abolish the state itself, marriage certificates would still be necessary as long as 1) married couples are considered to have different rights from unmarried individuals, and 2) the state continues to exist.

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