Legal Rights And Benefits of Marriage 11

What Else You Get By Saying “I Do”

Although to some marriage is nothing more than a “piece of paper,” the formal ceremony does afford some rights and benefits you can’t get otherwise.

In general, society treats the spouse as the most privileged party, more so even than mom, dad or the kids. This is an important factor when it comes to making medical decisions or receiving public assistance benefits on behalf of your spouse, or rights that would otherwise require a power of attorney or similar legal document.

Social Security, disability and medicare benefits can all be paid to a spouse as can veteran and military benefits. Those with insurance plans through an employer can normally add a spouse to the plan, a benefit that is not offered to unmarried couples. Most employers also extend bereavement leave to close relatives of your spouse and allow family leave to care for your spouse in the event they become ill or disabled.

Marriage also gives you the right to sue on behalf of your spouse and gives you visiting rights if your spouse is in jail or the intensive care unit at a hospital. You cannot be called to testify against your spouse as most states have laws protecting your conversations as privileged.

If you do divorce, you are automatically entitled to a share in the community property, barring of course, any prenuptial or postnuptial agreement. Even in the event that there is a “prenup” or “postnup” in place, most states still treat alimony (also called spousal support) as a separate issue – meaning it can’t be waived in a prenup.

The spouse has the right to make funeral and burial arrangements, consent to any after-death procedures and grant or refuse any bestowments to friends and family members, assuming they do not conflict with a legal will.

A married couple can also file tax returns jointly and are given the ability to create family partnerships to address business income. In addition, self-employed individuals can extend investing opportunities to their spouse through an individual 401(k), a benefit not afforded to unmarried couples or registered domestic partnerships.


  • Chris

    I had read a pro-gay marriage article, where the writer claimed thousands of marriage benefits. I counted 33. Just a little off there, huh?

  • cheryl

    My boyfriend and i bought a condo and it is in only his name. We are now married and his promise all along that after he dies that i get the condo but now he won’t make out a will or quick claim deed i know his daughters will fight me for the condo, what should I do?

    Also, he bought the condo with his money he just promised me as soon as we moved here.

  • Katherine

    Am I entitled to 401K or stock gains accrued during our marriage on accounts he had before marriage?

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  • Becky

    My uncle is a veterian and is 68 years old. He has never had children and just married for the first time 2 and a half years ago. He is mentally ill and has had many health issues. He has not lived with his wife for some time now and would go see her on occasion but rarely stayed at their home. He was staying at his deceased brother’s home when he became ill and he called his wife to come help him. She did not go for several days. He was without his medication and very confused. She did go to see him and take him food. She took away his vehicle and left him without any transportation or a phone. He did have a cell phone but the reception is poor. She told his sisters that he was so week that he couldn’t walk out if he wanted to or needed to. She had a lady that she knew check on him and take him sandwiches. She was a drug addict. Finally, adult protective services was called and they came out and he agreeded to be checked into a mental facility. My mon, Aunt, and I went to see him the day after he was admitted. He was a little confused but was able to talk to us. His sister visited 3 to 4 times a week and he remained the same. One day they went to visit him and when they asked what nursing home he was going to be put in they were told that they weren’t allowed to be given that information. They tried to talk to his wife but she would not tell them what his test results showed or when she was going to send him. They finally found out where he went and they went to visit him and he could not talk and did not know they. When they asked the nurses what was wrong they were told they weren’t on the list and they couldn’t be given any information. They tried to call his wife but she would not talk with them or return any calls. This went on for about a month or so and on afternoon we went to see him and he was very ill. He had a rattle in his chest that you could hear and feel. He was trying to tell us something but of course he couldn’t talk. We asked the nusre to take his temp and she did. It was normal but she said that he had a temp the day before. We asked if they could suction out his mouth and she said it was too deep. We finally left and had only been home about 2 hours when we got the call that he was in the emergency room and was on a ventilator. We when got there and we were finally able to see him he had no blood pressure and we were told that we needed to make a decision that he would not make it. They doctor that was on call for his family doctor refused to admit him so he was traqnsfered to a bigger hospital. My mom and I went down because his wife went home and we stayed with him all night and unitll she showed up after 1:00 pm the next afternoon. We were then told that we could only see him at certain times and were allowed only miminual information, what she chose to give us. Of cousre this is just the highlights. Legally is there anything that we can do to be able to see him and know what is happening with him medically. We need help please. We live in Arkansas.

    Thank You

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  • I was married for 40 yrs & I have been on SSI for over20 yrs.If I remarry my ex will I be entitled to any health services from VA or SSI ?My exhusband is 100 % disabled & gets income also Social Security.I want to know what will happen to my SSI health benefits & can I get help through the VA?Please let me know as soon asap. Thank you

  • cj parker

    My husband is threatening to have his family here to box up my personal belongings out of my own room n have it padlocked and store his stuff in… In other words he trying to move me n my son out is this legal in the state of Ms