Marriages in Virginia
Alternate Title: Marriage Rights and Legal Considerations in Virginia
Marriage is a cultural and social institution that has long been understood as a commitment of a couple’s love and devotion to each other. It also serves as a legal status that provides couples with federal rights along with additional benefits offered under state law. Many of these rights are intended to assist families during times of crisis, such as the ability to make medical decisions for a spouse who is incapacitated.
Marriage in Virginia
In order to get legally married in Virginia, couples will need to have a valid marriage license present at the time of the ceremony. After this license has been obtained from a local Clerk of the Circuit Court, ceremonies must be performed within 60 days. Virginia law also advises couples to disclose any relevant information to each other prior to the ceremony that could be grounds for voiding the marriage later, including felony conviction, impotency, or If the wife is pregnant by another person other than the husband at the time of a Virginia marriage.
There are over 1,100 federal benefits, protections, and rights that are granted based off of marital status, some of which are outlined below:
- Social Security – The surviving spouse of a working American is eligible to receive Social Security payments. A spouse can also receive benefits for caring for the minor child of a deceased worker.
- Family and Medical Leave – The U.S. Family and Medical Leave Act guarantees leave for employees to care for children, parents, or spouses.
- Immigration Law – After marriage, a U.S. citizen or permanent resident may petition for their spouse to immigrate into the country.
- Tax Benefits – Married couples are able to file joint income tax returns with the IRS, and this may offer financial advantages over filing separate returns.
- Military and Veterans Benefits – The spouse of a deceased veteran is entitled to many important benefits, including survivor benefits, health care, home loan guarantees, and educational assistance.
Common Law Marriages in Virginia
A common law marriage occurs when two people consider and hold themselves out as a married couple without a formal ceremony or license. These arrangements are not considered marriages in Virginia. However, they will be recognized in this state if they were valid in another part of the country where they took place, as long as they were between two individuals who would have been eligible for marriage under Virginia law.
Same-Sex Marriage in Virginia
The Commonwealth of Virginia has legally recognized same-sex marriage since October 6, 2014, at which time the Supreme Court of the United States refused to hear an appeal in the case of Bostic v. Schaefer. This lawsuit was filed in July 2013 and challenged the state’s refusal to sanction same-sex marriages in Virginia. The plaintiffs won their case in February 2014, and the ruling was upheld in July 2014. Marriages between same-sex partners began at 1:00PM on October 6, 2014 after the mandate was issued by the Circuit Court, and since then, Virginia has been performing legal marriages of same-sex partners and has recognized same-sex marriages that occurred out-of-state.
Adoption statue in Virginia permits either a single, unmarried individual or a married couple to adopt. Prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage in the state, this rule excluded same-sex couples from adopting. Now that same-sex marriage has been permitted in Virginia, a same-sex couple can adopt a child as a married couple, as long as all other requirements have been met. Married same-sex couples are also able to complete a step-parent adoption if one of the spouses is already the legal parent of a child and the other spouse is not.
Legal Considerations in Marriage in Virginia
Before marrying in the Commonwealth of Virginia, both heterosexual and same-sex couples need to comprehend the legal considerations that will accompany their union:
- Property: Any property acquired during the marriage will presumed to be marital property in the event of a divorce.
- Debts: Marriage doesn’t automatically make a spouse responsible for the debts of the other spouse if he/she did not co-sign on the applications or loans. However, if a debt is incurred during the marriage, the creditor will usually have the ability to sue either spouse for the entire amount owed.
- Support Obligations: In a marriage, spouses are responsible to support one another. Circumstances might arise in which one spouse becomes obligated to support the other, so married couples should be aware of this as they establish roles within the marital relationship. Spousal support obligation questions usually arise upon divorce or separation, at which time the courts will look at each spouse’s income, each spouse’s needs, the duration of the marriage, and the standard of living during the marriage.
- Estate Planning and Wills: Under Virginia law, if a person, without descendants, dies without a will , the entire estate passes to a surviving spouse. if a person, with descendants, dies without a will , 1/3 of of the estate passes to a surviving spouse. Even if a couple has few assets, it is always wise to consult with an attorney about estate planning after marriage.
As the most significant legal human relationship, marriage carries numerous rights and consequences that make it the basis of family life in Virginia. The laws that affect the rights and legal considerations of married people are constantly changing, and there are a variety of benefits and responsibilities that come with this union. If you have questions about legal issues affecting your marriage, getting the advice of an attorney can save you considerable conflict, frustration, and expense later.