Dear Abby on Religious vs Legal Marriages

Discussion in 'The Watercooler' started by DaisyFace, Feb 20, 2009.

  1. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Good Morning All--

    So I read the morning paper today...and I see in "Dear Abby" that she is addressing a new trend whereby a couple gets "married" in their church--but never actually files the paperwork to make it a "legal" marriage.

    This way, they can get married, have a big party, receive lots of gifts, wear their wedding rings--and yet still can claim 'single' status for the purpose of government assistance and other benefits.

    Whether you choose to have a religious ceremony or get married in a courthouse ( or jumping out of a plane or whatever...), I have no problem.
    Gay marriage? Older man/younger woman? Older woman/younger man? Different race? Different religion? Whatever...does not bother me at all.

    It DOES bother me, however, that people would deliberately "get married" in such a way as to defraud the American taxpayer. I think that Food Stamps, Medicaid, Welfare etc are all good and necessary programs and should be available to people who need it. It really irks me, though, that some people feel that they should be entitled to it, regardless of their reality. If they are a family of two working adults and two children all living under the same roof--they are FAR less needy than a single mom living with two children.

    The worst part of this--is that these couples are using "religion" as a cover for their deception. As in "Well, God recognizes our union--so we don't need to disclose it to the government."

    These people should be ashamed!!


    (Sorry for my rant...)

  2. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Isn't living together the same thing, minus the ceremony? The families have to know that it's not legal. If they don't care, should WE care? Living together has been going on for a long time. Couples have kids and are married in every way except legally.
    I think a lot of kids see all our failed marriages and figure, "Why make it legal?" Not sure it's all about saving taxes. Guess I don't feel strongly one way or the other, but if my kid doesn't legally marry, I'm not going to fund the party.
  3. Hound dog

    Hound dog Nana's are Beautiful

    I'm surprised they can find a pastor who will do the ceremony. Whenever I've helped someone with a wedding, and for husband and mine, the first thing that was brought up was the license. Couldn't get married without it. Then pastor signs it and sends it in to the courthouse.

    Seems stupid to me. All the way around.
  4. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    According to the article...some churches feel so strongly about the separation of church and state that their clergy will no longer sign legal marriage certificartes/licenses. Chruches specifically named were The United Church of Christ, The Unitarian/Universalists and the Quakers.

    The part about the article that offended me was that the reasons given by those who opted for "religious marriage only" were specifically to qualify for government assistance, medicaid, and welfare.

    And I do feel that if you are living together as a family, then as far as those benefits are should qualify for benefits as a family...and not be hiding the facts about who resides in your home.

    I admit that this is just my own little beef...feel free to remove this thread if it is too small-minded or offensive.

  5. hearts and roses

    hearts and roses Mind Reader

    How do you know they did this so they could use public assistance?

    Before I was married and was still living with my now H, I was able to claim "Head of Household" on my tax forms and receive almost all of my money back in taxes, as I was the parent of two kids and wasn't making a heap of money then. And, coincidentally, I file "married separate" now because my H owns his own business and I'd rather keep our incomes and tax stuff separate.

    I know a local couple who had a "committment ceremony". It is not a legal marriage and the pastor from their Episcopalian church performed the service near the river. The reason they chose this over a legal marriage was due in large part to some legal issue concerning the man's wife who had passed away a few years earlier and something with her estate.

    I don't like the covert deceit going on with the getting married in the church but not really being married, and find it very surprising that a church/pastor would go along with their plan. However, having a committment ceremony and not making it legal is kind of a nice way of making a committment without the legal entanglements - as long as it's not fraud-driven. But doing so to be able to receive freebies from the state? That's just seedy and wrong.
  6. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Thank you--

    That's all I was trying to say....

  7. gcvmom

    gcvmom Here we go again!

    I know in our state, most clergy require you produce the government-issued marriage license prior to the ceremony to ensure everything is legit. We sort of giggled when husband and I married over the fact that we were technically married a week or so before the actual ceremony date, because that's when we were given the license.
  8. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    As you can see in my signature me and my SO have been together for 25 years. Longer than most marriages these days. We never had any kind of ceremony and we dont claim married for anything related to the government though we sometimes refer to each other that way in casual conversation. Like when I was in the hospital the nurses kept calling him Mr. MyLastName. Harmless mistake.

    He is my life mate in all that matters and a piece of paper isnt going to change anything. I dont want to be married because my first marriage was such a disaster. Also, I will admit, that marriage would mess up my benefits royally and I need my benefits to survive. He doesnt make much money but his job doesnt provide insurance and I need medicaid to pick up my donut hole in Medicare Part D because I have catustrophic medical costs. My prescriptions run over $1500 a month and I dont even get half that much. So I chose long ago that I wouldnt get married. No need. I didnt want to ever go through another divorce and now I really cant get married. It would probably ruin a good relationship anyway.
  9. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    Janet, you said a mouthful!

    Like you and Tony, my husband and I are married in our hearts but not by any officiant.
    We were each married before, we have each been through an incredibly nasty divorce, and the fallout from both of them still affects our lives to this day.

    Although I have an issue with people pretending to get married in order to throw a party and get lots of presents, or with the express purpose of defrauding the government, I am in full support of keeping the state out of my life as much as possible.

    I obey laws, I pay my taxes, try to be a good friend, good citizen, all that jazz. But I don't need the government getting up my nose or having the power to make decisions for me that should rightfully be mine.

    Therefore, no marriage for me.

    Moderators, I apologize if I'm getting way too close to the "political statements" line. Please feel free to delete or edit if that's the case.

  10. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It

    I completely understand not getting married to keep medicare benefits, or to keep the govt out of your lives as much as possible or simply because you feel committed enough with-o getting legally married. I am fine with it.

    I am NOT fine with having a religious wedding and getting all those gifts, etc... and then purposely not filing the paperwork so you can keep getting benefits at the single person rate.

    I see THAT as defrauding not only the government and your religion, but also everyone you invited to the wedding. I would be rude enough to ask for the gift back if I knew someone did that. Wedding gifts are for people who get MARRIED - not for people who PRETEND to get married. If the couple (or 1 of the partners) was bragging to me about how this was done to get more benefits, I might also be rude enough to report them to social services/food stamps/whomever for the fraud.

    Because that is what it is: FRAUD.

    I have no problem with anyone collecting benefits who legitimately qualifies for them. But to fake getting married to get more benefits is just wrong, in my opinion.

    I was married by a Unitarian Minister and our Unitarian Church still files the paperwork for the couple. Not sure if it is state law or to take care of an administrative chore for the bride and groom, but they do.

    This just seems awful and TACKY.
  11. DammitJanet

    DammitJanet Well-Known Member Staff Member

    I sure didnt get any wedding gifts....when would I have had a wedding shower? I simply moved in. No fuss, no muss.

    I never had a baby shower, house warming party or any other of those such things. Never even occurred to me. Thinking back...I didnt even get wedding gifts at my first marriage! That marriage was such a disaster I got gypped!
  12. DaisyFace

    DaisyFace Love me...Love me not

    Well said, Susie!!
  13. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    I am in full agreement with this also. It's not the choice of whether to get married or by whom, but the deception that is wrong.

    (I think I'd be right behind you, asking for the gift to be returned as well)

  14. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    It's very hard these days. I'm on disability and hub is a car mechanic and it doesn't pay much, never did. To keep our Medicaid, hub had his boss cut back his hours so that he wasn't "full time" and didn't qualify for the outrageously priced benefits on a small salary (hub makes under $30,000 year). The five extra hours a week, don't make a big difference in his salary. If he had kept his hours as is, they would have taken Medicaid from us for a policy that cost $600 month with a $1000 deductible for all of us. We couldn't have afforded even one $1000 deductible. Heck our cars only cost us $1000 each :). We don't live high :) Anyway, had hub not done this, we would have lost the ability to go to the Medicaid Dental Clinic, which is dang good. And there is no way we could afford dental, which they didn't even offer. A nurse I know who works for ER at our local hospital says some folks are pulling their own teeth because they can't afford the cost of a dentist. Well, I have two kids and WE aren't going to pull their teeth. So hub had boss cut his work so that he is part-time and doesn't qualify for their horrible insurance and we get to keep our benefits. When I was young, I used to look down at people who did what we are doing. Now I call it "surviving." by the way, we are legally married. We got married in a park with about ten friends and close family. We didn't require gifts for attendance and got very few, which was fine. It was still lots of fun. I guess my post is to defend the working poor who do what they have to do to get by. I used to follow the rules. Now I can't. JMO.
    Last edited: Feb 20, 2009
  15. trinityroyal

    trinityroyal Well-Known Member

    MWM, what you and hub are doing ISN'T wrong. It's not like hub is working full time hours and getting paid for full time hours, and then filing papers to say that he's only working part time so that you can keep the benefits.

    People have tough decisions to make all over the place, especially with the economy in its current state. I guess the phony-wedding smells wrong because it seems like a lie.

    What you're doing isn't a lie. You and hub have been above board, and you're doing what you have to, to take care of your family.

    It's just different.
  16. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    True...sort of. He did cut his hours, but the boss knew exactly why and he agreed. So in a way it's a cheat. But without him doing it, since we have no family to help us, there is no way any of us could have afforded any medical care. None. I so feel sorry for those who don't have any coverage and don't make little enough :) to qualify for Medicaid. Wisconsin Medicaid is fantastic. I don't know what we'd do without it. I have my psychiatric medications and appointments and we do get sick like everyone else...our healthcare system is a big mess...grrrrrrrrrr. Thank you, trinity ;) I feel guilty sometimes, but I don't see any other way unless one day we all get health care...ah, well.
  17. susiestar

    susiestar Roll With It


    You have NOTHING to feel guilty for!!! Not only are you NOT deceiving anyone, you have generously opened your home to foster kids and you have adopted kids. Personally, I think everyone in the working poor who fosters or adopts should have automatic full medical, dental, mental health and vision coverage for the entire family.

    I see NOTHING deceptive about what your husband did. He isn't working under the table. He had his hours cut back, but nowhere do you have to justify why you are not full time, you just have to say you are not.

    There is a HUGE difference between what you are doing and what someone who has a "religious" wedding and then doesn't file paperwork so that they can still claim single benefits. You are not lying. Period.

    When husband was in grad school and we lived with my parents, we were up front with the state children's insurance people. Totally upfront. I didn't work because if I did we would not be eligible for the insurance because husband had a graduate assistanceship and got a small check every month. We also needed me at home to take care of Wiz.

    But, as per the rules, when husband's work insurance kicked in we notified DHS and cancelled it. We could have kept it for at least 6 months more, easy, with-o anyone finding out because we were certified through then, but that was against the rules.

    MWM, you are following the rules and taking care of your kids. Those benefits are there for a reason. Having your husband cut his hours back a bit to keep insurance is just sound financial planning at your income level, esp with kids.

    At least that is my take on it.
  18. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Thanks :) We haven't done foster care for a loooooooooooong time. I don't think we should get special favors when we did. The kids got medical coverage and we did get subsidies. We still do for L. because he's a foster/adopt. We didn't get any for the other kids. Times were NOT as bad as now when we adopted any of the kids. I never dreamed things would get this bad in my lifetime. Ever. Because of that, I do understand those who ARE cheating. I'm not talking about those who are well off and want to cut a few corners so they can get that new big screen. I mean I understand those on welfare who work under the table from home because they can't afford childcare and their bennies will be gone if they worked full time. I understand those working class folks who do jobs for cash so they don't have to report higher income because income doesn't have to be very high to pay more taxes (or get less tax money back). I don't blame those who don't follow the rules anymore if they are in need. We kind of just look the other way and don't say anything. In our neck of the woods, things are very bad. The unemployment rate is probably close to 10%. Many places have closed down. I've seen too much to judge what others do if I haven't walked in their shoes...jmo.
  19. donna723

    donna723 Well-Known Member

    I remember when the original letter that started it all was in "Dear Abby" and I can understand why people were upset about that "wedding". If I remember it right, this couple was planning a huge, formal church ceremony complete with expensive gown, flowers, reception - the whole bit. And they had already collected thousands of dollars worth of wedding gifts from their friends and family who all believed that they were getting legally married, but they were really 'faking it' - just going through the motions to have a big celebration and get lots of gifts!

    And I can completely understand why sometimes NOT being legally married is the better choice, like in Janet's case. Or sometimes older people on Social Security choose not to marry because it would reduce their benefits. What I don't understand is how you work out all the legalities when you're not legally married but live together like you were ... I guess it would depend on whether people just assume that you are married or if it's known that you're not. It would bring up a lot of the issues that some gay couples face. If a couple is not legally married, can she be on his medical insurance and vise versa? Can one of them make medical decisions for the other if they become ill or incapacitated? And if one of them dies, will their assets automatically go to their other relatives, like parents or siblings, or to the partner? My sister in law's mom was killed in an accident last summer - she and his dad had been legally married, then divorced - and it's still such a mess that it will be in court for years!
  20. Lothlorien

    Lothlorien Active Member Staff Member

    Donna, in that case, wills and living wills are a necessity. Power of attorney needs to be given to the significant other in order to make medical decisions. If you are not legally married, then you need to appoint a power of attorney.

    For a few hundred dollars, you can have a lawyer do your will with a living will and advanced directives, along with your power of attorney. There are companies online that offer them cheaper, but if you have any kind of uniqueness to your situation, which I'm fairly positive most of us do, a lawyer is the safest bet. (Did I just actually say that????:holymoly:)