What are the legal advantages and disadvantages of living together vs marriage?

Asked over 2 years ago - Richmond, VA

What can I possibly gain from marriage that I won't be able to from just living together? To me, marriage is just a paper that says we belong to eachother. Traditionally it costs us people alot of money and I don't see any good things. However, from legal standpoint, what are advantages and disadvantages of living together vs marriage?


Attorney answers (1)

  1. Mary G. Commander

    Contributor Level 16


    Lawyers agree


    Answered . From a legal perspective, the advantages of marriage often can be achieved through other means-but these means also require a "piece of paper'. Through marriage, you acquire inheritance rights. Most of that can be achieved with a Will, but Wills can be changed and even if a spouse tries to disinherit the other one, they still are entitled to one-third of the deceased's estate if they are not separated. A spouse is the one who makes the medical decisions when you cannot. This can be achieved with a Medical Power of Attorney. Only if you are married can you hold title to property as "tenants by the entireties", so only creditors of BOTH of you can attach the property. If you own property together-and do not have an agreement as to how it will be dealt with if you split up, then a very expensive partition uit would have to be filed. You also cannot file joint tax returns or have bold of you adopt a child in Virginia. Additionally, no further documentation is needed to establish the paternity of any children who may be born. This can be important for inheritance as well as Social Security benefits if one parent dies. This may not be a total listing.
    The disadvantage, some would say, is that you have to get a divorce instead of just taking off.

    This response does not create an attorney-client relationship and is intended for general information purposes only.

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