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
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
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
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
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"
the book "fire your wife" by jon hertzog