It is increasingly more common for couples to live in longtime loving relationships without ever choosing to marry. However, marriage confers upon couples many legal rights and benefits that couples that simply cohabitate do not enjoy. These rights and benefits differ from state to state. This article outlines the legal rights of married couples and the legal benefits of marriage in Oklahoma.
The legal benefit of marriage in Oklahoma include, but are not limited to the following:
It may seem paradoxical that divorce is listed as one of the benefits of marriage, but what it represents is the underlying fact that marriage is a legal commitment that you cannot simply walk away from. We often think of marriage as a romantic arrangement, but it is in fact a legal contract. To end a marriage in Oklahoma requires the legal process of divorce or “dissolution of marriage”, as it is called, in which the needs of both spouses will be taken into account in order to divide assets, debts and arrange for the support of your children.
Next of Kin Status
When you marry your spouse, you immediately become their next of kin and receive the right to consent to any financial or medical decisions on behalf your spouses, should they be incapacitated or in need of emergency medical procedures. In addition, as the next of kin you will have the right to authorize autopsies, consent to organ transplants, receive special visitation rights and make funeral and burial arrangements for your spouse upon their death.
As a married individual, you have the right to:
- Share and inherit his or her estate; and
- Receive certain estate and gift tax breaks pertaining to assets that were given or left to you by your spouse.
Assets and benefits that accrue to the survivors upon the death of a love one, such as Life insurance payments and Social security benefits, may depend on your legal marital status at the time of death. You cannot legally be your spouse’s survivor, if you were not legally married at the time of death. Marriage renders you legally entitled to any survivorship rights that accrue upon the death of your spouse.
Joint Tax Returns
Married individuals can decide how they want to be taxed. They can elect to pay taxes separately or jointly depending on which method is most beneficial them. Simply by adding up what they would pay separately and jointly then choosing the lesser amount, they may enjoy a tax benefit that is not afforded to unmarried individual.
Spousal Testimonial Privileges
Married individuals cannot be forced to testify against their spouses in a criminal proceeding, except when spousal abuse is concerned; or disclose any confidential communication between one spouse and the other.
Free Consultation: Oklahoma City Family Lawyer
Married couples enjoy numerous federal and state benefits not enjoyed by couples that simply cohabitate. These were but a few. More information on the legal rights and benefits of marriage in Oklahoma, contact an experienced Oklahoma family law attorney.
Divorce Law Office of Oklahoma City offers initial consultations at no cost. For a free consultation, call (405) 880-8222 today. If you prefer to reach out to us by e-mail, send your question using the “Ask the Lawyer” form at the right side of this page.