Many states have a specific definition of the term “marriage”.  Family law lawyer will tell you that your understanding of what “marriage” means in your mind may be very different from the legal definition.

For example, “marriage” is being defined in many states as a civil bond or “contract” between a man and woman.  Why?  Many states are reacting to the recent trend of state supreme court decisions regarding gay marriage.

A  marriage is defined as:

Marriage, so far as its validity in law is concerned, is a civil contract between a man and a woman, to which the consent of the parties, capable in law of contracting, is essential. Lawful marriage may be contracted only between persons of the opposite sex and only when a license has been obtained as provided by law and when the marriage is contracted in the presence of two witnesses and solemnized by one authorized, or whom one or both of the parties in good faith believe to be authorized, so to do. Marriages subsequent to April 26, 1941, not so contracted shall be null and void.

The law states that only a man and a woman can be married in the state.  The significance of this is far reaching.  Marital status has an effect on such things as taxes, estate planning, custody and child support, presumption of paternity, and numerous other issues.

The definition of marriage has far ranging effect on many family law issues.  Knowing what a marriage actually means in the eyes of the law gives you insight into the minds of your representatives in the state government.

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