10079764Why are less and less couples getting married? Is it because their parent’s marriages failed? Is it because they don’t see any benefit to marriage? Is it because every wedding appears to be a $20,000 extravagant country club affair? Maybe, as was written in a recent New York Times article, “…marriage has gone from being a way that people pulled their lives together to something they agree to once they have already done that independently.” There are several problems with this way of thinking. One is that children don’t wait for marriage. More and more children are born outside of marriage. This is a problem if the parents separate without ever marrying, because then (at least in Minnesota) the father has no enforceable legal rights to parenting time until he spends a significant amount of time and money to get a judge to order that he can have parenting time with the child. This is true regardless of whether the father has raised the child jointly with the mother since the child’s birth. This is a bad deal for both the father and the child as it typically significantly interrupts their relationship and causes unwarranted stress on the child. Another reason is that marriage is a financial life jacket in terms of protections for the lower earning spouse and a fair division of the assets accumulated during the marriage.  This is one reason same-sex couples had been yearning for the protection of marriage until it became the law in Minnesota in 2013. Same-sex couples were not entitled to a fair division of the house or their partner’s retirement account, without access to the institution of marriage. Because it is risky financially to accumulate assets together before marriage and because marriage helps protect the father-child relationship for the benefit of child, it is risky business to delay marriage if you are having a child together or are otherwise in a committed relationship.

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