Pfhorrest wrote:Agreed with slinches completely. Any special status of marriage that has to do with raising children should occur automatically upon parenthood, no formal marriage required. Any special status of marriage that has to do with cohabitation / sharing of resources / etc (e.g. for tax purposes) should occur automatically upon cohabitation, no formal marriage required. (And should be applicable to people cohabitating for non-romantic purposes as well; if two friends/siblings/whatever want to buy a house together and share food and other expenses together the way a married couple would, they deserve whatever tax status the married couple would get for that too. Maybe require a formal "incorporation of household" for this or something, if necessary). Wherever possible, special statuses should be granted one by one as soon as the relevant facts obtain, without any formal procedure required.
I don't really understand your objection to marriages or what you think you're accomplishing by granting statuses based on what people do rather than a formal ceremony. The reason lots of people don't get married when they're dating/living together/having sex etc. is because they don't want the commitment of marriage. What you're saying is that the government should look at facts about they're relationships to try to figure out their intent. That's messy. The point of legal marriage is that there's this default package of contracts that most people want to undertake with their spouses (supporting each other; sharing their property; being legal next of kin; living together) that most people don't want with others. For the most part, you can get married but contract out of the societal defaults with a prenuptial agreement. (And you could also contract for some of the provisions of marriage without getting married - ex. you could draw up a legally binding mutual financial support contract.) The reason "palimony" hasn't really caught on is that absent explicit formal contracting, it's very hard to determine which of these formal contracts people wanted when they entered into their relationships and most people who do want these commitments still get married.
Very few people who live together who aren't romantic couples act anything like a married couple in terms of sharing property. If we had more, say, monasteries where people lived together and mutually supported each other and shared all their property for a lifelong commitment, we would have in addition to the current tax statuses (married filing jointly, married filing separately, head of household, and single) a status of "people holding property as a community." But that's rare, so there's no need for that.
It is relatively common for people to live together romantically but not be married but share all their property as though they were married, but usually their reason for not getting married is they don't want that kind of commitment, so what would society gain by trying to tax them as though they were married? Yes, sometimes they would pay higher taxes, but you'd still have to come up with some sort of legal test to distinguish them from simple roommates (or a romantic couple that lives together but keeps their finances separate) and courts hate having fuzzy legal lines. Your idea that legal statuses should happen as soon as the facts occur is mostly just a boon for family law trial attorneys and nobody else.
I guess your "incorporation of household" would solve the fuzzy line problem, but who would sign up for that who isn't currently married? Presumably the romantic couples who aren't married aren't married because they don't want a legal commitment (or are in same-sex relationships, but the solution to that is same-sex marriages, not abolish all marriages). There aren't that many people who aren't romantically involved who want a lifelong legal commitment to each other to justify replacing marriage with an "incorporation of household" status.
Some things, like hospital visitation, inheritance, etc, might require special registration of those statuses, but seriously those should be done explicitly anyway; family shouldn't always get visitation rights (and the power to make decisions over an unconscious patient) automatically, what if that person hated their family and would never want them deciding anything for them, or even seeing them in their vulnerable state?
That's a societal default. The vast majority of married people who don't have wills, living wills, or powers of attorney want their spouses to be their next of kin in terms of visitation, inheritance, and medical decision-making. The vast majority of people who aren't married but have adult children and don't have those documents want their kids to get their stuff and make their medical decisions for them. The vast majority of people w/o the wills and powers of attorney who don't have kids and aren't married want their parents or siblings to have those rights and powers. That's why we have the defaults. If you don't like the default, you can write up a will or a power of a attorney or a living will right now. Now, maybe you have some polling data that shows that, no, most married people want their siblings to inherit most of their stuff and make their medical decisions, or most unmarried people who don't have kids want their second cousin to inherit their stuff and make their medical decisions. But I doubt that's the case. What is your proposal: everyone at 18 years old is forced to write a will and living will and review them annually? Who does that benefit? Most people don't write wills and living wills because they're OK with the defaults.
Legal marriage is a terrible way of handling basically everything it handles, and it should be abolished from law completely. If religious groups want to continue performing legally irrelevant "marriage ceremonies", that's their business, and they can exclude whoever they want from their private religious rites
The current system isn't perfect, but it works a lot better than the system you're proposing. The combination of your fuzzy-line-palimony system ("special statuses should be granted one by one as soon as the relevant facts obtain, without any formal procedure required") and removal of societal defaults ("family shouldn't always get visitation rights (and the power to make decisions over an unconscious patient) automatically, what if that person hated their family and would never want them deciding anything for them, or even seeing them in their vulnerable state?") just means a lot of work for family-law attorneys. I don't see any benefit.