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Subject:  Re: Marriage Penalty Returns Date:  1/21/2013  1:54 AM
Author:  ItsGoingUp Number:  117452 of 127513


As food for thought, here's how I think about it and what worked for me.

Marriage has several possible components:
1. a commitment to each other
2. a commitment to the world at large
3. a religious ritual and commitment
4. a contract filed with the state

These are somewhat independent. The first is vitally important, and all the others are rather a sham without it. I lived with my girlfriend for many years as we slowly moved from "this is fun" to "this is for keeps". We moved in with each other, but didn't mingle finances, have kids, or do anything else irrevocable. But eventually we got to the point that we considered ourselves a team and had no intention of changing that.

Then we decided to have kids. We felt the second step was important: a commitment to our friends and the world at large that we were a permanent couple. So we had a wedding. We did the party, the legal officiant, but we didn't do the third and fourth parts. Not being religious, it was easy to ignore that aspect. However we didn't think what we were doing was really any of the state's business either. And so long as there was this big tax penalty, we'd rather not be considered married by the state. So we left out that part. It didn't affect the wedding at all, and whenever anybody asked if we were married (rarely), we'd say "sort of" and explain if needed. On all the official forms we were single.

At some point around the third kid my wife retired. We looked at the legalities and the taxes and decided it made sense to file the license and be considered legally married by the state. We got a couple of friends to witness for us. We didn't have a party, and I don't even remember the date. Our anniversary is the day we had our wedding party, now over twenty years ago.

So I'd say that if you want to adjust your contractual status with the state, there's no reason that need affect anything personal, or indicate that you are breaking faith with each other in any way. Get officially unmarried. Just be clear with each other what it means (i.e. nothing).

But be very careful of legal potholes. What we did, continuing the status quo, was simple. You will be unwinding years of things done with certain assumptions that have changed, so you might be in for some nasty surprises. If I were you, I wouldn't go there. Especially as they're likely to change the rules again when the mood takes them.

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