It is increasingly common for couples to live in loving long-term relationships without ever getting married. Marriage however, confers upon couples many legal rights and benefits that unwed couples do not enjoy. The most common legal right and benefits of marriage in Oklahoma can be summed up as follows:
The Right to a Divorce
We often think of marriage as a romantic arrangement, but it is in fact a legal contract. It may seem paradoxical that divorce is listed as one of the benefits of marriage, but what it represents is the underlying fact that marriage is a legal commitment that you cannot simply walk away from.
To end a marriage in Oklahoma requires the legal process of divorce or “dissolution of marriage”, as it is called in Oklahoma, in which the needs of both spouses will be taken into account in order to divide assets, debts and arrange for the support of your children. Marriage can provide means of protecting your interests should you or your spouse decide to end a long-term relationship.
Next of Kin Status
When you get married, you immediately become your spouse’s next of kin and acquire the right to consent to any financial or medical decisions on behalf your spouse, should they be incapacitated or in need of emergency medical procedures.
In addition, as your spouse’s next of kin, you will possess the right to authorize autopsies, consent to organ transplants, receive special visitation rights and make funeral and burial arrangements for your spouse upon their death.
As a married individual, you have the right to share and inherit your spouse’s estate; and receive certain estate and gift tax breaks that pertain to assets that were given or left to you by your spouse.
Your right to receive assets and benefits that accrue to your spouse’s survivors upon his or her death – benefits like life insurance and Social Security benefits — may depend on your legal marital status at the time of death. You cannot legally be your spouse’s survivor if you were not legally married at the time of death. Marriage renders you legally entitled to any survivorship rights that accrue upon the death of your spouse.
Joint Tax Returns
Married individuals can decide how they want to be taxed. They can elect to pay taxes separately or jointly, depending on which method they find most advantageous. By adding up what they would pay separately and comparing it to what they would pay jointly then choosing the lesser amount, spouses may determine whether they could realize a tax benefit that is not afforded to unwed couples.
Spousal Testimonial Privileges
Married individuals are exempt from testifying against their spouses in a criminal proceeding, except when spousal abuse is concerned; and from having to disclose any confidential communication between one spouse and the other.
Tulsa Family Law Attorney: Free Consultation
What we have listed here are but a few of the numerous legal rights and benefits, both federal and state, enjoyed by married couples. For information on specific legal concerns regarding your marital status contact an experienced Oklahoma family law attorney who can the legal consequences of your living arrangement in more detail.
To find out how the Divorce of Tulsa Law Office can assist in your Tulsa family law matter, call us today. Alternately, send the Tulsa divorce lawyer a question using the “Ask a Lawyer” form on this page. Enter your e-mail address or phone number and we’ll get in touch as soon as possible.
For a free confidential consultation, call now: 918-924-5526.