Marriage is a big step for two people to make. You are making a public, legal and religious commitment to your partner. Before taking the plunge into matrimony, you and your partner should not only sit down and discuss what you both want out of the union and future, but the pros and cons of marriage.
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Pro: Legal Benefits
Since marriage binds you legally as well as socially, you receive benefits from both. Once married, you can file your taxes jointly and pay less taxes since you share deductions for expenses, such as children and mortgage payments. You also receive estate tax breaks. Not only can spouses inherit their deceased partner's wealth and property, they also don't have to pay taxes on their inherited estate. Other than tax breaks, you can receive Social Security, Medicare and disability benefits for your spouse as well as your partner's veterans and military benefits.
Con: Loss of Monetary Control
When you're married, you combine living expenses and incomes. While this may put more money at your disposal, it's not your money to do with as you please. The money belongs to both spouses, which may affect your spending habits. Instead of buying that designer handbag or new power tool, you now have to discuss the purchase with your spouse. Maybe you want to save your money and your partner wants to invest it in a new business venture or real estate. You want to take a vacation, but your other half doesn't think you can afford it. Marriage means you lose control over your money.
Pro: Family Benefits
You don't need to be married to have children or be in a committed relationship, but that marriage license does offer family benefits and protection. When you marry, you can file for stepparent or joint adoption of a child as well as joint foster care rights. This gives you legal rights and the ability to make decisions on the child's behalf. Being married also allows you to live in neighbourhoods zoned only for families. In case of divorce, you become eligible for spousal and child support, child custody and visitation.
Unfortunately, marriages don't always work out. According to the U.S. National Library of Medicine, nearly half of all marriages end in divorce. Unmarried couples can walk away from their relationship; married people cannot. They must legally dissolve marriage before moving on. Divorce can mean lawyers, mediators and court. It impinges on finances, housing, careers, schedules and children. Divorces also take time. You may be done with the relationship, but you're still married to your partner until the law says you aren't.
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