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Marriage Certificate--What's The Point?

In the past few generations, the notion of couples living together without a marriage certificate has become more and more commonplace and less of the "sin" that it was once considered. Even Hollywood celebrity couples like Tim Robbins and Susan Sarandon, and Goldie Hawn and Kurt Russell, and many others have opted for long-term relationships without actually being married. To some, the idea of asking the government or a religious organization to approve of your choice of companions seems old-fashioned and outdated. Getting a marriage certificate is seen as an intrusion, or as something that just isn't necessary for those who truly love each other and are committed to each other. Is this really the case, and are there any real benefits to actually being legally married? What are some thoughts when it comes to a marriage certificate between two people?

Obviously no one can dictate morals standards to someone else; a religion might teach that living together outside of marriage is sinful, but this means little to those who don't follow or adhere to those religious beliefs, or who don't believe in God altogether. And many feel that a marriage certificate is an intrusion into their personal lives by the government, as if it's up to a stranger wearing a judge's robe to tell you what you can and cannot do.

But there is much more to a marriage certificate than just getting "permission" from the government when you're committed to someone else. Obviously many marriage laws are in place to protect innocent persons from being hurt; most places have outlawed polygamy and have set minimum ages for marriage in order to protect someone from a forced marriage or from an arrangement that they're not yet ready to handle. Applying for a marriage certificate means that you are going to obey these laws and not marry someone underage or have multiple spouses. Just like having a driver's license means that you have a basic understanding of the laws of the road and have agreed to abide by those laws when behind the wheel, a marriage certificate is just to be sure that you understand these marriage laws and are going to abide by them in order to protect your spouse from any dishonesty on your part.

A marriage certificate also protects one's property and one's interests in the marriage. Doctors need to respect the wishes of one's spouse if a person becomes incapacitated or is in emergency treatment and unable to speak for himself or herself; without a marriage certificate, one's wishes might not be respected. There is also the protection of property in case someone dies or the couple decides to separate. That marriage certificate means that there will be fewer questions about property divisions and that both spouses are going to be protected by the courts when it comes to dividing up the property or protecting your rights to it. So while everyone must make their own personal decisions about their relationships, there are some obvious advantages to opting for a marriage certificate.

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