What is marital status?

Get Legal Help Today

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption

Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

Full Bio →

Written by

UPDATED: Feb 20, 2013

Advertiser Disclosure

It’s all about you. We want to help you make the right legal decisions.

We strive to help you make confident insurance and legal decisions. Finding trusted and reliable insurance quotes and legal advice should be easy. This doesn’t influence our content. Our opinions are our own.

Editorial Guidelines: We are a free online resource for anyone interested in learning more about legal topics and insurance. Our goal is to be an objective, third-party resource for everything legal and insurance related. We update our site regularly, and all content is reviewed by experts.

Marital status refers to the lawful recognition of the agreement between a man and a woman to be husband and wife. Along with the legal marital status of being married, the husband and wife acquire rights and obligations to their respective spouses. The rights and obligations of marriage begin when the couple is legally married and may continue, to a certain extent, even after the termination of the marriage.

Marital status is one of the basic issues involved in a lawsuit for divorce (marital dissolution) or an annulment (nullity). At the end of a marital dissolution or nullity proceeding, the legal status of husband and wife is terminated and the spouses are returned to the legal status of being unmarried or single persons. Marital status is automatically terminated upon the death of one spouse and the survivor becomes an unmarried person once again.

A person’s marital status can have a significant impact on his or her legal rights. For example, while a person is married, he or she may not enter into a valid marriage agreement with anyone else. To do so would be considered polygamy, which would mean that the marriage is  not legal. Polygamy is also a crime in the U.S. In addition, in many states, a person’s marital status when he or she acquires property is significant. For example, in “community property” states, any property acquired while two people are married is viewed as “community property. Community property is split 50-50 in divorce proceedings, except in very rare limited exceptions or if there is a prenuptial agreement or other written contract in place between the parties. Inheritance laws also recognize the status of being married as a special legal status. There may be specific rules against disinheriting a spouse and a spouse is given priority over assets if you die intestate (without a will). It is also possible to give monetary gifts or leave money to your spouse without incurring the same tax liability you would incur if you were not married to that individual.

Because a person’s marital status is important, when two parties are getting a divorce, there are times when one of the divorcing spouses wishes to bifurcate the divorce proceedings. This occurs if the two cannot agree on all aspects of property and custody division, but if they wish to be returned to the status of being legally single before those issues are fully resolved. To understand more about marital status or how it impacts your rights, you should strongly consider speaking with family law attorney or a divorce attorney.

Get Legal Help Today

Find the right lawyer for your legal issue.

 Secured with SHA-256 Encryption