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Pros and Cons of Common Law Marriage

There are many reasons why men and women might choose to live together before or instead of getting married.  However, there are equally as many reasons why this is not considered a good idea.  Before making the decision to move in with a partner, it is important to understand both the pros and cons of living together without a legal contract.

Living together before or instead of getting married offers many people a distinct comfort zone.  The couple can experience what living together might be like and thus determine compatibility to make a better decision whether they want to make it a lifetime arrangement.  By living together, people are often forced to drop most of the social courtesies they use when dating and therefore give each other a chance to know each other as they really are, ‘warts and all’.  Because there aren’t any legally binding contracts, if things don’t work out, the couple can just go their separate ways and not have to incur numerous legal and other fees as part of the breakup.  By living together rather than getting married, each member of the couple can also keep separate finances, further making a future split more amenable.  If marriage is part of the future goals, living together can help a couple save money for the wedding or honeymoon or help them purchase a house sooner.

Pros and Cons of Common Law Marriage

However, there are also many reasons why living together before or instead of marriage is not a good idea.  For people who have deep religious beliefs, this often conflicts with family or personal convictions causing unnecessary tension in the relationship.  Because there are no binding contracts, there remains a high degree of uncertainty in the relationship, creating a situation in which getting to know each other is impossible as each struggles with issues of unnecessary insecurity.  Should a child be born to the relationship, issues of whether marriage is precipitated by the child or by love can add unnecessary confusion and should death of a partner occur, there are no securities or automatic benefits granted the survivor.  Finally, unmarried couples are not eligible for many tax breaks offered to married persons which can add up to significant money wasted.

These are just a few of the pros and cons of living together before or instead of getting married.  The factors that will be most applicable to a given situation will, of course, be contingent on the individuals involved but it remains clear that the decision to co-habitate must be made with some thought as to the repercussions to the individuals, their families and their futures.

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