Marriage as a Joint Business Venture?

If two people, of opposite sex, marry just to gain cheaper medical benefits, and then have absolutely nothing to do with each other? Is this ilegal? Also, could two people of opposite sex cohabitate long enough to claim commonlaw marriage - and gain cheaper medical benefits - without a ceremony?

Imagine the possibilities…

  • Jinx

To your first question, yes, it’s legal, and it manifestly happens all the time.

To your second question, common-law marriage exists in only a few states, each of which treat it somewhat differently. Getting benefits is not very easy without marriage. There have been lots of threads on this. Do a search.

Yes, and so…it seems to me (IMHO) any US Constitutional Amendment could never close all the possible loop holes and creative ways for those who desire to slip through the cracks. It’s going to create more red tape than it shall solve?

Moderators, feel free to bump to IMHO…some times the facts get shady. That’s why we have Moderators and lawyers! :wink:

  • Jinx

Of course, bogus (‘platonic’) marriages for benefits must happen.

And some immigrants marry American citizens, pay cash, and may never meet (this opportunity was offered to me once). It’s illegal if the INS can prove the marriage is bogus.

And some detective story involved the crook courting and marrying the witness so she couldn’t testify against him.
Funny, this hasn’t come up that I know of, in any discussion of same-sex marriage as a threat to traditional marriage. Would a constitutional amendment address this stuff at all? Have any of the states’ bans addressed these forms of false marriages?

How about two very elderly people marrying for companionship and to share a home or a care-person? Is that improper also?

boy, what a hijack, shame on me

Bogus military marriages weren’t all that uncommon in my day. Easy way to get off-post and increase your pay via benefits.

The way I understand it is that the police cannot force her to testify against her husband. If she wants to, I don’t think her marriage would stop her.

She could volunteer to testify about something she saw him do but anything he communicated to her would becovered under spousal privelage. So even if he confessed and explained his crime too it would be inadmissble.

Not necessarily. The marital-communications privilege varies from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. Some jurisdictions make the privilege available at the testifying spouse’s option, so the testifying spouse can answer the question or not, as he or she prefers. Other jurisdictions make the privilege absolute, so that the testifying spouse cannot reveal the non-testifying spouse’s statements even if he or she wants to.

Common law marriages exist in 12 states and the DC. They are treated the same in all the states since a CL marriage is just like a ceremonial marriage. (It is a marriage.) The requirements for constituting a CL marriage may vary slightly among the states and DC, but basically the parties must intend to be married and hold themselves out to the public as being married (along with the other requirements for any marriage: capacity to marry, not already being married, etc.). Some of those states may require a certain duration, but I’m not sure of that. In any event, a short duration is evidence that the parties did not intend to be married.

To clarify what I meant, look at this from your cite:

and this:

It’s certainly true that common-law marriages are equivalent in law to ceremonial ones. What I don’t know is how or if states make that determination during the course of the marriage with regards to cheaper medical benefits, as per the OP. I’m not sure even if case law exists on this, and I’d be interested if anyone has some cites.

First, I want to make perfectly clear that CL marriages are not “equivalent” to ceremonial ones. A common law marriage is just an alternate way of getting married in those states that recognize it. It’s not equivalent: it’s the same. (The parties must still get a judicial decree for a divorce, just as in statutory marriages as there is no CL divorce.)

As to the OP question, the hypothetical sounds like the two persons never had the intent to be married. “Cohabitate long enough to claim commonlaw marriage” is a misunderstanding how CL marriages are created. As I said previously, duration is immaterial in the US states. (I believe that Canada requires a 6-month duration.) The parties must really intend to be married (with all the ensuing consequences) and hold themselves out to the public as a married couple.

No, this isn’t a hijack at all. This is what’s going to be happening if we think we can make same-sex marriages unconstitutional. There’ll be more loopholes than the red tape can close, I believe. - Jinx

I knew a couple in college, both gay as it happens, who got married to avoid having to live in dorms. They got married student housing, among other benefits, and divorced amiably just after graduation. It probably saved them a great deal of homophobic harassment.