April 8, 2015
Today’s Marriage Contract
Written by Erb Legal LLC
Couples exchanging marriage vows in Medina are, according to Ohio laws, entering into a legal contract. Unfortunately, thinking of a marriage as a contractual agreement between two parties and the state in with clearly defined rights and obligations falls short of the rules that apply to contracts.
For example, a party breaching a marriage contract remains eligible to receive support and a distribution of marital assets. Try telling your local cable company that you want to breach your two-year agreement with them, but instead of you paying them a termination, ask them to pay you a fee for leaving them.
Marriage is a contract, but the normal contract rules do not apply. A better understanding of the marital contract, and what the future holds for it, can best be understood by looking back at the history of the spiritual and interpersonal relationships the marriage vows create.
A Brief Historical Perspective on Marriage
Money and marriage shared a connection as far back as the ancient Greeks and Romans who married more for inheritance and power than love. Twelfth-century European aristocrats frequently joined hands in pre-arranged marriages designed to maintain familial power or wealth. It was not until the Victorian period in the 17th century that marriage for love gained ground in Europe and in the United States.
By the beginning of the 20th century, marriage for love took hold as new customs originated. The 1920s gave rise to Saturday night becoming the traditional date night for couples in Ohio communities such as Medina, Brunswick and Wadsworth. Chaperones of the 19th century disappeared as courting couples went out on their own to restaurants and other date-appropriate locations.
Marriage in the 1950s was almost mandatory. America’s focus was on the nuclear family composed of dad, mom and children. Remaining single was viewed as unnatural, and married couples without children were looked upon as missing an essential component of a successful marriage. Today, expressing one’s undying love for a soul mate through a proposal of marriage transcends traditional heterosexual couples as more and more states begin to recognize same-sex marriages.
Divorce rates have changed dramatically since the 1800s when divorce was almost unheard of in the U.S. This was due, at least in part, by laws that made it difficult for couples to severe their marital bonds.
Nineteenth century couples seeking a divorce in Brunswick, Medina or Wadsworth, Ohio, were limited to adultery, desertion, impotence, bigamy or extreme cruelty as legally recognized grounds. The state later added fraudulent contract, gross neglect of duty and imprisonment as grounds for a divorce.
The trend in the latter part of the 20th century was a movement away from fault-based marriage dissolution in which a court could not grant a divorce without finding one of the spouses at fault. Ohio no-fault divorce in Brunswick, Medina or Wadsworth allows a couple to divorce without a court assessing blame. Either incompatibility or voluntarily living apart for a year or longer are two grounds for divorce a spouse does not have to prove fault on the part of the other spouse.