Ask Leslie: How comparable is a domestic union to a marriage?

DEAR LESLIE, 

How comparable is a domestic union to a marriage?

– Do We Add Up…

Dear Do We Add Up…,

A domestic union and a marriage, which is a legally recognized domestic union, have partners that are genuinely committed to each other both emotionally and usually financially. In some cases, a domestic union can’t be a legal marriage, but that does not alter the level of commitment between the partners. However, in a domestic union, there is no actual financial obligation under the law, unless that relationship is deemed a common-law marriage.

A domestic union may be beneficial in those states that recognize common-law marriages. Common-law marriage is when a couple lives together as husband and wife (regardless of gender in states where same-sex marriages are legal) for a certain length of time, which varies by state. That would then consider that domestic union the same as a legal marriage; thus, giving the partners the same benefits under the law afforded to legally married couples.

In states that do not recognize common-law marriages, the couple will not have those benefits as if legally married. Benefits afforded to legally married couples range from health benefits, tax deductions, social security, inheritance, IRA retirement benefits, legal decision making, pre-nuptial arrangements as well as emotional benefits.

ASK LESLIE SAYS… whether you are in a domestic relationship or marriage, the emotional and financial commitment to a greater union can be a wonderful life-long experience. If you treat each other with the same respect that you would want to be treated with, then the status of the union will not be as important as the long-term loving relationship that you have built.

 

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