Is a "Marriage of Opportunity" Illegal?

Marriage of Opportunity= Legally marrying someone for financial and healthcare benefits.

Let’s say your employer will pay you an extra 1500-1600 a month if you are married. And let’s say you have some lesbian friends who would like to adopt a baby, but can’t as a lesbian couple in their state. Or maybe one of them already has a biological son whom they both raise, and they could benefit from the free medical care your employer offers.

Ethics aside; and opinions of the sanctity or marriage, or my spelling of sanctity (is that right?" all aside, is it LEGAL? Could you be arrested for fraud or something? If you did everything right, and you legally married the person, I don’t see how you could be punished. But it’s always possible, I guess.

Now… hypothetically, if said employer is the Army, is there anything in UCMJ that specifically forbids such a thing? I know that if you are legally married, then you can be charged with a felony if you have sex with anyone other than your wife. So you would not legally be allowed to date. And, so, you would be forced into a life of celibacy or else risk felony prosecution. But that’s a separate adultery law. I’m talking about arranged marriage laws. Is there anything in civilian or military law that forbids this?

Thanks. Oh… and if this situation is not illegal, you can bet there will be a VERY interesting proposition in MPSIMS very soon!!

I think what you want to know is (1)whether marriage is a rebuttable presumption and if so; (2)what are the consequences of a rebuttal.

(1) Yes. Parties do not have to recognise marriages and afford the associated benefits. E.g. in some places it is sufficient to show the couple does not have a shared committment to a life together.

(2) The rules are different in different places.

Secondly, an arranged marriage is something altogether different.

The only “illegal” mixed-sex marriages I’m aware of are those entered into for purposes of immigration fraud. I assume that the marriages themselves are still valid; it’s just the associated immigration benefits that are denied (along with subjecting the parties to whatever criminal sanctions may exist for the fraud attempt).

Since you appear to be asking about a specific real life situation, the parties involved need to speak to an attorney licensed in the appropriate jurisdiction and knowledgable in matters relating to military law.

Those attorneys would have to be Jag, correct? And I think they would be more apt to giving the answer the Army wants them to give. And not necessarily the correct legal answer. Hey, it’s free so I can’t bitch. But I think because ethics may come in to play, that they may not be so helpful. It would be nice to find a knowledgable civilian attorney, but then, one would not give me free advice I’m sure.

Bear_Nenno: That’s not how the JAG works. They give legal answers based on the law, not on the wishes of their commanding officer. The CO comes to the JAG officer for legal advice, not to dictate what legal answer said JAG officer is to provide.

Also, unmarried members of the United States military are completely free to date.

Next, if you happen to be a member of the US military and then you perpetrate immigration (or any other kind of) fraud, then you are liable for prosecution under either the appropriate civilian laws or the appropriate punitive article of the UCMJ.

BTW, one’s not “charged with a felony” under the UCMJ; one is charged with violating one of the punitive articles of said code of law.

Then maybe I will stop by JAG next week and see. Do you think there is actually any precedence on this?

Sure, but this isn’t really relevant. The OP describes a person legally - or at least administratively - marrying a person for mutual benefits (none of which are citizenship). Once a person is married and while still in the military, that person cannot engage in sexual relations with someone who is not his spouse. So, if the marriage was just something on paper, the military member of the marriage would restrict himself to not having any sex legally.

In fact, that’s the answer I usually get, albeit not from JAG. The answer is usually "but if you were caught with another person, then you would be court martialed or Article 15ed for adultery.

What’s the distinction? Are you saying that no articles of the UCMJ are felonies? I’m always told that certain things under UCMJ are felonies and therefore will transfer over to your civilian criminal record as a felony conviction. Is that not the case? If they’re not felonies, what are they? Is it not just semantics to say they’re not felonies. Especially when they can send you to prison for over a year and make you pay 1000s of dollars in fines?

Oh, BTW Monty I was just at the 부천SK vs FC서울 soccer game last weekend. You guys won 1-0. But that’s okay, I’m used to Seoul losing by now… But I was happy cause I ended up with a soccer ball signed by all the Bucheon players. Hey, they’re not my team but it’s still a nice souvenir. I should have thought to see if you could make it. Tomorrow I’ll be at the game in Suwon.

You should probably read this before you say “I do.”


Thanks, GFactor!

Ignoring the military-specific aspects of the OP, which have been very well answered already, I can state that not only are such marriages legal, but I am extremely well aware of an instance where two highly ethical people related to me entered into one for what they, and I, consider morally sound reasons.

My maternal grandfather had only three daughters, one of whom died young, one who married and became my mother, and the third, my aunt who is the female lead in this story. His sister also married a Wesleyan minister and had two sons, one being the male lead.

When Lee, one of the two boys from the last sentence, came of age, he was in strong disagreement with his father’s way of running his household, and left home. My grandfather took him in and arranged for him to get a job with the New York Central Railroad, for which grandpa worked. He worked out well in that job and kept it for 40-odd years, retiring from it nearly 20 years after my grandpa died.

My aunt worked briefly at the beginning of the Depression, then kept house for my grandparents for the next 20 years. After they died, she inherited their home. She did some adult care and other incidental jobs, but the larger share of the household income was Lee’s income from his railroad job, and then his Railroad Retirement pension.

Close from childhood on, the two of them continued to live in the same large old house, in what was legally a landlady/boarder relationship between cousins, but was actually a platonic-loving family relationship.

As he got on in years and his health began to decline, he realized that he would be leaving her essentially penniless except for owning her house, since as an unmarried man without children, his pension would end with his death. His solution was to suggest that they marry, which would mean she would be entitled to a widow’s pension from his retirement plan. And, in their seventies, they actually found romantic, marital love in a C.S. Lewis/Joy Davidman sort of way.

Lee died of an embolism eleven months and two days after their marriage … one day after her pension rights as his widow became vested.

And, bluntly, I have never seen the slightest thing wrong with this, and was and am happy for them, their lifelong cousinly love, and their November romance.

Some news articles about the navy and sham marriages:

And a discussion of Immigration law on sham marriages:

The distinction with courts-martial is that they are federal court convictions, AFAICR. Perhaps it’s just that civilian jurisdictions/entities will consider the expression “convicted by a military court” to be the equivalent of a felony conviction.

Personally, I wouldn’t advise anyone to go speak to any lawyer and say, “Hey, I’m planning on faking a marriage. What do I need to know to not get caught committing fraud?” But that’s just me. I’m fairly certain, although I have no cites available, that it’s not in the lawyer’s job description to help someone commit a crime.

One of the benefits, whether the prospective couple intends it to be or not, is qualifying to apply for immigration if one party to the marriage is a US citizen. That particular immigration program is not subject to quotas and, thus, is apparently a pretty popular means of immigration fraud.

There is also the issue of fraudulently receiving health benefits. That’s certainly not a good idea. Not only might there be legal repercussions (conviction, confinement, undesirable discharge), but there will also be the issue of repayment for the benefits received. BTW, that’s not limited to the health benefits. If it’s determined that the marriage is fraudulent, then all the benefits received (health, transportation, allowances) must be repaid.

Yeah, the Bucheon team’s not bad at all, is it? My students last week (my school’s located in Incheon) were trying to convince me that Incheon will slaughter the Bucheon team next time they meet. I laughed at them and then they laughed at me. Fun all around.

Oh, I failed to mention that, if any of this stuff is done outside the United States, then the non-military member of the sham marriage is open to prosecution for fraud, conspiracy, larceny, etc. I’m guessing that this hypothetical event is to take place in Korea. I certainly wouldn’t wish a trot through the Korean police, prosecution, trial, and prison systems on anyone. I certainly wouldn’t wish it on anyone now, when the police and the prosecution are having a major turf fight over who get to handle cases and how they will be handled.

p.s. to Gfactor: Thanks for those links. I’m already disgusted by the sham marriages there. As a retired Personnelman First Class, I’m thoroughly disgusted by the clerk who assisted the shams in those stories.

BTW, if you were to get married in a situation like this, you’d probably still be “legally” married. You would need to seek an annulment or a divorce. Which could cost you court costs, attorney’s fees, and if your new spouse decided to take advantage of the situation, possibly some temporary support.

This would seem to qualify as a ‘shared committment to a life together’, unlike the examples given above.

BTW I know the heirs of the CS Lewis estate (Joy Davidman’s son and grandchildren)

I thought I sensed a little disgust from your replies. :-> Don’t worry, I wont be doing anything illegal. Immoral is okay with me. But I draw the line at illegal!

You are quite welcome.

I see what you’re saying. But the point I was going for is that the purpose behind them marrying was to qualify my aunt for widow benefits under his pension; the fact that it was between two cousins who loved each other as family, and blossomed into romantic love, is irrelevant to the point that it was done for financial reasons. They were already living together, thanks to my grandfather’s decision decades previous; they had no idea that storge would turn into eros when they agreed to marry. And yet I feel that there was nothing immoral in what they did. They weren’t scamming the government; it was a way in which Lee could ensure my aunt would be provided for after his death, as he had been accustomed to doing while alive. That it turned into a real “Surprised by Joy” relationship was, once again, God planting pleasant surprises in people’s paths.

Forgive the religious comment in GQ; given the strong Lewisian parallel (and the fact that the Lewis/Davidman relationship itself was originally one of convenience that turned into something more), I’m sure you understand why it forces itself on me.

I don’t understand the connection. Is this marriage supposed to help the lesbian couple to adopt? To get medical care for both of them? In what way?

But I would advise someone to go to a lawyer and say “I am considering getting married in this circumstances, is that legal?” I’m fairly certain that it is the lawyers job to advise on what the law says, and thus help his clients NOT commit a crime.