If you’re wondering, “Should I get married?” Remember that you have company. Having a child or joint property makes many people want the legal and financial security that only marriage can provide, but many people aren’t quite ready to take the plunge and get married. Marriage is seen as a bad thing by some people. They may have tried this in the past, but it ultimately failed and resulted in a divorce. Or perhaps they were raised in a family where there was conflict. Some people just don’t have faith in marriage, while others require additional time to determine whether or not their partner is “the one.” There may be monetary gains from delaying marriage.

Many people choose not to get legally married because there are so many other options, such as common law, domestic partnership, and cohabitation agreements. Below we are sharing how to get married without a wedding? There are benefits and drawbacks to both alternatives, and while they each offer some, they do not offer all, of what a traditional marriage does. You should talk to a local matrimonial lawyer about the specific benefits in your state before making any decisions.

We consulted attorney Madelyn Jaye for advice and perspective on broad legal issues. To “help you determine what domestic arrangement best fits your personal lifestyle and goals,” as she put it, is her job.

Marriage Contracts

The state determines the couple’s eligibility for domestic partnership benefits. A cohabitation agreement is different because it allows the couple to determine the rights and responsibilities of each member of the household. Unlike domestic partnerships and civil unions, Jaye explained, “cohabitation agreements are contracts negotiated between a couple and can be as narrow or as broad as the couple wishes them to be.” All state courts should uphold the legality of a cohabitation agreement because it is a valid contract.

Cohabitation agreements are used by non-married couples in the same way that prenuptial agreements are used by married couples. They detail the division and management of assets, liabilities, and finances within the context of the relationship. They also specify what must occur in the event of a breakup. In the event of a breakup between the two partners, what would happen to the ownership of the house they had purchased together? They can also talk about who will pay for what and when. Do we each pay half or does one person always foot the grocery bill?

It’s not necessary for every couple to have a written cohabitation agreement. They are commonly used when one partner has significantly more financial resources than the other, or when a couple acquired substantial wealth together. In the event of a breakup, this can help keep things clear and peaceful. None of the perks of marriage, such as being able to enroll in each other’s health plans, are available under a cohabitation agreement.

Tips on Deciding Which Option Is Right for You

Where do you even begin if you are in a committed relationship and ready to make it official legally? Jaye suggests discussing your hopes and dreams for the relationship from the get-go. To paraphrase what she said: “Too many couples avoid having open, honest, truthful discussions about their individual and joint assets, liabilities, finances, and goals.”

Consider the values that you share as a couple. Do both spouses need their own health insurance, or can one get by without it? Do you both want security for your portion of the home purchase price? Jaye adds, “Too many couples think in terms of their current situations when planning for the future, ignoring that the future could bring a change in circumstances that need to be considered,” suggesting that you consider the decisions you will be making in the future.

The advice of an attorney should be sought out. This expert can walk you through the various options and state benefits available to you legally. Advise you of the legal options available to you in your state, can guide the financial planning of your future together, and can leave the champagne, chocolates, and romance to you,”

A Marriage Recognized by Law

There is no legal obligation to report a common law marriage to the government. You can have a common law marriage if you and another person publicly declare your intent to wed, refer to each other as “husband” and “wife,” share the same last name, and live together for at least two years. If you and your partner decide to separate, you will need to go through the same legal procedures as a divorced couple. “The couple holds themselves out to friends and family as being married, lives together for some time, but never formally marries or obtains a marriage license,” said Jaye.

Despite the attractiveness (you can be married without any of the work!) of common law marriages, they are not widely practiced in the United States. Even in states that recognize them, Jaye notes, “common law marriages can be fraught with open questions that result in litigation.”

The lesson here is that you shouldn’t rely on the law treating your relationship as marriage without making it official.