I am a divorce attorney. I make a living counseling individuals who want to end their marriages.
So, it should come as no surprise that I think there might be an alternative to traditional marriage.
So, I wrote a book about it and recently got it published. The book is called “Social Marriage: All You Need Is Love.” And with divorce numbers at all-time highs, it’s no wonder people are searching for different types of marriage.
What you need to understand is that the divorce rate is more than 50 percent. And that’s for first-time marriages. For second marriages, it’s over 60 percent. For third marriages, it’s around 75 percent.
In addition, generational
attitudes toward marriage are changing, especially among today’s younger adults. We see that as more and more millennials are not getting married because they see their friends are getting divorced or their parents have gotten divorced. And even though they’re not choosing to get married, the pressure is still on them. I don’t think it’s culture specific. It’s across the board.
That’s why I talk a lot about social marriage. It’s pretty similar to traditional marriage, but there is one huge difference.
This concept of social marriage, it lets two people agree to be in a committed, loving relationship without signing a legal document. The legal document nowadays has a lot more cons that it does pros.
Also, marriage has changed so much since its inception centuries ago that it is possibly outdated in today’s modern world.
So, in my book, I talk about how the concept of marriage started so long ago during the Middle Ages. Back then things were so different. Women had to get married to own property through their husbands. There were all these different beliefs that don’t exist nowadays.
So, the real problem with marriage is how people are just blindly signing on for conditions they don’t even know exist and can affect them down the road.
People don’t realize when people they married, they’re not just entering into a committed relationship. They’re signing a contract without reading or understanding all the terms. The terms aren’t even presented. You’re signing a marriage certificate and there are all these invisible pages that you know nothing about.
One example in a legal marriage people don’t realize is you’re agreeing to take on all your spouse’s debt. Another example is the concept of spousal support and who can end up paying who, for how much and for how long.
People don’t even know what they’re agreeing to.
One thing couples can do to mitigate risk in a divorce is sign a prenuptial agreement. But even that comes with its own pitfalls.
If you’re going to get traditionally married, at least sign a prenup. But the problem with prenups is they are not 100 percent guaranteed to be enforceable. And the provisions in the prenup are enforceable at a judge’s discretion. A judge might say, ‘I think this is reasonable. I will uphold it.’ Or a judge might say, ‘I think these terms are crazy. I’m going to throw them out.’ And it depends on what judge you have. Every judge is different.
As for social marriage, I think it’s becoming more and more popular, especially among millennials for a few reasons.
They’re not getting legally married. They don’t want to agree to all these invisible terms and with the risk of divorce being so high. But they also don’t want all the pressures of not getting married either. So, they’re getting married without a piece of paper.
I believe so much in social marriage, I do practice what I preach.
My husband and I have been together for 10 years. We’ve never signed a legal marriage certificate. We call each other husband and wife. We cohabitate. We purchased a house together.
Everything just needs to be communicated. If we want to buy a house together, we discuss it and then put each other on title.