Marriage vs. de facto. Does it matter?

by Kate Marr on December 20, 2011

Kate Marr
It was reported that Charlie Sheen once said about marriage “with a piece of paper……things [get] worse……. because those relationships, I want to say they were pretty good before the marriage and then something happens”.  Whilst not many people are likely to give much weight to relationship advice from Charlie Sheen, this notion is not unfamiliar to me. I have heard some people say that once a couple are married, then the relationship is destined to fail.

The statistics illustrate that a lot of the marriages do end in divorce, but I do not consider it could be attributed to the fact that they have married.  There is a vast range of reasons that could be the cause of a separation, including the pressures of caring for children, paying a mortgage, growing apart, addictions, violence, in addition to other everyday stressors.

Whilst I acknowledge and respect that you do not have to be married to have a happy and meaningful relationship with someone, I am still a firm believer in the institution of marriage. Some consider it is just a piece of paper, I however consider it also reflects two people’s commitment to each other.

There is a growing trend of couples living together in a de facto relationship without “walking down the aisle”. Those de fcto couples who do separate could fall under the family law jurisdiction whereby an application can be made in the Family Law Courts to settle a dispute regarding any property and/or parenting matters. These disputes are settled by the Family Law Courts applying the same process as if the de facto spouses were married.  So I ask; in today’s society, does it really matter if you are married or not?

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