How Marriage Works

Benefits of Marriage

Besides love and companionship, there are many benefits to marriage, especially in the eyes of the law. In fact, there are 1,138 federal benefits, rights and responsibilities associated with marriage [ref]. In this section, we'll list some of those benefits.

Spouses have or are entitled to:

  • visitation rights and can make medical decisions, unless otherwise specified in a living will
  • benefits for federal employees -- many of which are also offered by private employers -- such as sick leave, bereavement leave, days off for the birth of a child, pension and retirement benefits, family health insurance plans
  • some property and inheritance rights, even in the absence of a will
  • the ability to create life insurance trusts
  • tax benefits, such as being able to give tax free gifts to a spouse and to file joint tax returns
  • the ability to receive Medicare, Social Security, disability and veteran's benefits for a spouse
  • discount or family rates for auto, health and homeowners insurance
  • immigration and residency benefits, making it easier to bring a spouse to the U.S. from abroad
  • visiting rights in jail

Social scientists have also found many positive benefits for married couples and families, including fewer incidents of poverty and mental health problems in families where the parents are married rather than simply cohabitating. Many studies also support the idea that children living with married parents do better in a variety of ways than children in any other living arrangement [ref].