Do you really need a piece of paper to be married? After all, marriage is about the commitment two people feel towards each other. They must share this mutual commitment to have a successful relationship, and merely having a piece of paper from Illinois will not secure their chances of fulfilling that “til death do us part,” part.
You see unmarried couples at the park or in coffee shops, hand in hand, owning dogs and sharing apartments or as is becoming increasingly common, a home and kids. They do not have to worry about divorce or child custody agreements, do they?
Ah, there’s the rub. While they may not have the formal, legal commitments at the level of marriage, their lives have become entangled in exactly the same ways as those of a married couple. They share all of the details and accoutrements of a married couple.
But what is missing is the apparatus that society employs to disentangle all of those entanglements that developed over the course of a marriage, better known as a divorce. While the ease with which a divorce works is often related to the degree of contentiousness the parties bear to each other, and that is unlikely to be tied to whether they have an Illinois marriage certificate.
If you are in this type of “nearlywed” relationship, your separation, should it ever occur, will be different from a divorce. Ironically, it may be more expensive, simply because the roadmap that applies to a divorce will not line up exactly, meaning your attorneys will have to do extra work to handle the extra complexity.
Source: Glamour, “Are You a Nearlywed?” Shaun Dreisbach, August 13, 2013