never marry

why you may not want to get married

the following describes some things that are common in marriage law around the world. it should be valid for germany, some states in the US and likely other countries

you can not just divorce

the other person can refuse and it becomes a "contested divorce" that can not be dissolved just so. depending on the local laws you might be unable to divorce for the next three years minimum, with the full support requirements of regular marriage continuing in this time. this is supposed to be time for possible reconcilation. even if both agree and want to end the marriage, in many countries and states you legally can not because you have to complete one "year of separation" before you can even formally apply for a divorce. the court might ask for proofs to check if the year has been completed accordingly. it is not merely waiting time: during the time, sharing between partners is limited, as separation should be upholded. doing each others laundry or going out together for a meal a few times can theoretically void the time passed so far. if one partner changes their mind and wants to delay proceedings, they might produce restaurant bills and the like at the court date for the divorce hearing to invalidate the year of separation. if there is enough evidence that the separation was not completed correctly, divorce will be denied. in a way, this makes it difficult to go from being married to being friends, instead, at least officially, it seems that people have to go from married to being strangers. a year is a long time after you have decided to part, especially if both parties live in the same apartment and can not afford a second one. in any case, as long as the marriage is not divorced, one party has to pay for everything in the other parties life if they are unable to support themselves. this includes housing, food, clothing and even paying for damages the other person does to other peoples property for example. no party is required to work in the year of separation, so in that time the other person can get into new relationships, party every day and be lazy, payed by your income. for the day of the divorce court hearing, the other person usually has to physically appear in court, which makes it difficult to separate into different countries because visas often depend on living together and once a person is in another country, they may be difficult to reach and long and expensive travel makes it difficult to get them to appear at a certain time in the country of divorce. the divorce process can be severely hindered if one party is not cooperative. there are only a few exceptional situations that allow to get around the time of separation requirement: there is anullment (following deception, like finding out about secret children) and hardship (domestic violence and worse), and that is usually about it. there are rare circumstances where divorce might be denied indefinitely, for example, if the other person gets ill while married and can not support themselves and you keep visiting the person or are somehow of importance to support their life

you loose future earnings and wealth

divorce formalities require a lawyer by law, and possibly an equally expensive translator if the other person does not speak the local language. it also costs time and effort to set up and coordinate appointments between multiple people, especially when a translator has to be present. €200 for a translator for a 30 minute session is not unusual, and that doesnt include the additional cost of a lawyer. and there might need to be multiple of such sessions. there is no really cheap divorce. the lawyer and court bills quickly go into the thousands, but the minimum is perhaps about €1000 for the simplest possible cases (shared lawyer, no translator, agreement on everything, court fees). if you do not have the money, it is generally more difficult, maybe impossible. tax benefits through marriage may be discontinued or reclaimed in the years of separation, even when still having to fully support the other person


that is loosing 3/7 of everything you earned while you were married. because marriage means two are considered one, everything any one earns belongs to both. there is a little 0.5/7 bonus for the earner. if one person has brought in less wealth than the other (think of stay-at-home partners), the wealth is redistributed. it is not unheard of that the caretaking of children is counted as work that has to be compensated extra, as well as lost career opportunities like missed education and job experience. if the marriage lasted multiple years this often becomes substantial and as the wealthier party you might be forced to make the payment from your future earnings, potentially for the rest of your life. like an extra ~43% tax on your net income that goes to the former spouse. you can lose savings, objects, cars and houses at once to someone you may not want to support further. debt created at any time while being officially married (not debt created before the marriage) also belongs to both equally, the one who can pay towards it has to pay it. illness is a particularly interesting case: if one person can not support themselves because of an illness that began in the time of the marriage, the future support responsibility falls to the former spouse and not for example to social security institutions of the state

if you got children

you will pay a maximum amount of child support until the children can support themselves, even if that takes 30 years. they are your children, so, where is the issue? well, you may not get custody and not be able to see your children often or at all. courts are biased towards giving custody to women. the payments you make go not directly to your children but to your former spouse, who can do whatever with it. of course, in any case, if you are poor and do not care staying that way then it doesnt matter as much because you will not usually be required to pay more than you need to support yourself; kind of an incentive for poor people to have more children

it might take a lot of effort

  • if the other person does not agree with the divorce, you may have a very expensive, stressful, multiple years long struggle with many meetings with lawyers, court dates, waiting for responses, forms and more until divorce ahead of you. it becomes cold-hearted business very quickly, urged by lawyers and naturally arising from the situation, and there will likely be no shred of mercy left for you unless the law provides it
  • if the other person does not speak the local language, you have to organise everything. if the other person does not have enough money, you have to pay for everything

why people get married

  • a potentially significan not tax cut, usually only when living together, for example €200 of monthly additional household income after taxes
  • relative-like status in law, which allows one spouse decisions about medical procedures. for example, if the other person is in a coma or similar
  • a potential incentive for staying together because of the difficulty to separate
  • being taken care of by receiving someones wealth in or after marriage and possibly never having to work again
  • because of a feeling that this is what people have to do, because society expects it, traditions, peer pressure. especially when having children to symbolise commitment
  • to be allowed to live in another country and get a residence permit in the case of an international relationship, because immigration is commonly heavily restricted. there is often no other way for living together. there is also usually no option to live together to test the relationship before marriage

be particularly mindful

  • if you want to keep the wealth you earn (loss of wealth)
  • if you move in together (difficult/expensive to separate in two apartments)

if the other person

  • can not support themselves financially (full financial responsibility and legal requirement to pay)
  • shows signs of developing a chronic illness (extends financial responsibility or limits ability to divorce)
  • does not speak the local language to a sufficient level (requires accredited translators for all legal matters)
  • might want children and you do not (deception/sabotage with birth control happens)

how society drives people to make a mistake

some communities tend to deflect or strongly discourage criticism of marriage, even though it is an important decision with potentially severe consequences that needs serious consideration of the facts. there is an expectation in communities, sometimes peer pressure from family and friends, for people to marry, and a widespread opinion that it is per se a good thing to do. because communities can be consistently dismissive of criticism, possibly unwanted effects are less commonly known and visible, so far even, that one might get the impression that it is legally no big deal. this way it seems less potentially harmful than it actually is and a mistake becomes easier to make for anyone that has not got the memo or goes to a lawyer and thoroughly informs themselves before marrying. the right answer to the question "will you marry me?" would be "i have to consult with my lawyer first"


  • in several ways, two are considered one. for example, spouses can destroy each others valuables and there is no point in going to the police
  • marriage can be considered a special long-term contract between two individuals. it means involving the government in a relationship
  • there is no need to believe others when they say that you have to get married, that it is necessary for growing up or that it is a good thing to do for anyone under any circumstances. you can be in a strong relationship perfectly happy without it. you may also have other alternative legal options at hand, like variants of civil unions or "domestic partnership" that might help with tax benefits (but might also introduce other marriage responsibilities)
  • the law for the tax benefits needs to change: people with marriages get preferred treatment from the government with tax cuts. the tax cuts are rationalised by supposedly helping people to procreate, but marriage does not equal procreation. people can marry and never want children and people can live together and have children without being married
  • more than 90% of people have married at least once by age 50 and about 40% to 50% of first marriages get divorced (which are only those by the people who had the courage to leave)

see also

the book "fire your wife" by jon hertzog