Many decades ago, getting married was simply something that virtually everyone did. Women were especially apt to walk down the aisle at a young age – even right after high school – in order to settle down with a partner and raise children.
Times have changed. Not many people want to settle down right after high school, while they are still teenagers. On top of that, more and more people are deciding to forgo raising a family and spend their lives child-free.
Given these preferences and decisions, there is not as much of a need to get married anymore. People no longer need financial security or someone to give them children. Many people prefer living on their own and having independence. They want to accumulate wealth and do not want to run the risk of divorce, which could potentially wipe out their assets and savings.
In fact, researchers are saying that younger people, like millennials and Gen Zers (those between the ages of 18 and 42), are ruining marriage. There are still many people getting married. In 2022, there were more than 2.4 million marriages in the United States alone. There are more than 61 million married couples in the country.
So, what is the concern? People are waiting longer to get married. In the 1950s, the average age to get married for the first time was around 20 years old. The age has increased as time has gone on. In 1980, the average age of first marriage ranged from 22 to 24 years old. In 2000, the average age increased to 26-27. Today, the average age is around 32.
Among millennials and Gen Zers, 83% say that they want to get married at some point. However, 40% of those surveyed think that marriage is an outdated tradition. Also, more than 70% think that getting married is too expensive in this economy. Indeed, in 2022, the average wedding cost $30,000.
You could say that you do not have to spend that much money to get married. Some couples skip all the festivities and simply get married at the courthouse. This can save a lot of money. But is this really what people want to do?
Many people feel like just skipping the whole wedding thing altogether. In fact, 85% of those who responded to the survey say that marriage is not necessary in order to have a fulfilled and committed relationship.
However, the fact remains that marriage offers many benefits and it can actually hurt someone financially to not get married. Marriage is considered to be the default arrangement in society. It is the basis for all the laws and systems in the United States. Marriage is how the government assesses many things, including relationships and inheritances.
Does getting married make the most financial sense? Maybe. The answer will not be the same for everyone. You should definitely take a good look at your situation and talk to a financial planner to see how you fare financially and determine whether or not marriage would be a good idea.
So if you have a partner and are on the fence about getting married, here are some questions you should ask yourself to see how you should proceed:
What Does Each Person Earn?
Getting married often comes with tax benefits. For example, assets you receive from your spouse are considered gifts, so you do not have to pay taxes on them.
When it comes to income, though, getting married may or may not be in your best interest. If you and your spouse earn about the same, getting married could bump you into a higher tax bracket, which means higher taxes. Also, if you are receiving government benefits that require few assets to qualify, such as Medicaid, then getting married would not make sense. You would likely lose your benefits.
Is the Relationship Permanent?
This question can be hard to answer. You may think you are in it for the long haul, but maybe your partner is not. Maybe one person wants to get married and have kids, but the other does not. When there is a mismatch in future goals and desires, you probably should not get married or make a financial commitment, such as buying a house or even buying a car for your partner.
However, if you are both committed to each other, then you should get married and take advantage of retirement benefits. If you have been married for more than 10 years, then you qualify for your spouse’s Social Security benefits. You will receive benefits if they die and you have reached the age of retirement (62 or older). You also get their benefits in the event of a divorce.
Even if you stay together in a committed relationship for a long time, you will not be considered married. Some states recognize domestic partnerships, but Florida does not. Therefore, you will not be entitled to any benefits unless you and your partner are legally married.
Seek Legal Help
In the past, the goal of most people was to get married. Nowadays, marriage is a much bigger decision. With the divorce rate still at about 50%, people are having reservations, especially when it comes to money.
Once you decide to marry, a divorce could happen at any time. It is best to be prepared. Broward County divorce attorney Scott J. Stadler can help you with finances before marriage or during a divorce. Fill out the online form or call (954) 346-6464 to schedule a consultation with our office.