Although business isn’t the most romantic topic to discuss on Valentine’s Day, it is important to understand that in many ways the decision to get married is a business one. Having a piece of paper that legally binds you to your significant other won’t change your personal connection or devotion to each other. Couples can remain happily together for decades without ever getting married, while others who are legally married can’t stand each other.
At the end of the day, marriage simply creates a legal entity around two people and bestows upon them certain rights, privileges, and benefits. Below are just a few examples of the legal rights married couples enjoy in Colorado:
- Spouses can ride in the ambulance and visit the hospitalized spouse even when visiting hours are restricted to others.
- Spouses can make medical decisions for the other spouse when he or she is incapacitated or otherwise unable to communicate.
- Spouses can file joint state and federal taxes.
- Spouses enjoy tax-free transfers of property between themselves.
- Spouses enjoy discounted rates for insurance.
- Spouses can obtain health insurance through the other spouse’s employer.
- Spouses can receive discounts on tuition.
- Spouses can take family leave to care for an ill spouse.
- Spouses can sue on behalf of a deceased spouse for wrongful death and loss of consortium.
- Spouses are entitled to a portion of the marital property if there is a dissolution.
- Spouses may be entitled to spousal support or alimony after a dissolution.
- Spouses enjoy a privilege for marital communication, which means a Court cannot force the disclosure of the communication’s contents.
- Spouses can both receive government benefits like social security and Medicare.
- Spouses may obtain immigration and residency benefits for a non-citizen spouse.
- Spouses of active servicemembers or veterans may receive military benefits for education or medical care, even though one spouse is not enrolled in the military.
- Surviving spouses are entitled to inherit a portion of the deceased spouse’s estate, even if the deceased spouse doesn’t include the surviving spouse in his or her will.
- Surviving spouses receive an exemption from both estate tax and gift tax for property left to them by their deceased spouse.
- Surviving spouses can receive the wages, workmen’s compensation, and retirement plan benefits of their deceased spouse.
- Spouses can create life estate and marital deduction trusts, which cannot be used for non-spouses.
- Spouses can provide instructions for after-death exams and procedures of the deceased spouse.
While having a marriage based on love and respect is the ultimate goal for many, don’t be fooled into thinking that a piece of paper is the key to creating that type of relationship. The paper simply documents the marriage as a legal institution. The relationship part is up to you.
If you are interested in learning more about how entering or ending a marriage may affect you, contact me today.
This website and blog include information about legal issues and legal developments. Such materials are for informational purposes only and may not reflect the most current legal developments. These informational materials are not intended, and should not be taken, as legal advice on any particular set of facts or circumstances. You should contact an attorney for advice on specific legal problems.
Lauren Lester is a Denver affordable family law attorney and estate planning attorney licensed in Colorado.