Marriage is a sacrament. A holy union. The basis of the nuclear family…
…to the church.
But strip away the religious trappings, and what is marriage? It is an agreement made between people to provide benefits, designate succession and legal powers, and declare responsibility for offspring. So, to government and civil authorities, marriage is, quite simply, a contract.
But in law, marriage is rarely treated like other contracts. It is generally considered as part of “family law” rather than contract law, not only written into different code sections but often with different courts to decide on its implementation.
What would happen if marriage contracts were considered like other contracts? Simply, it would solve a lot of problems with the institution of marriage.
As long as the parties to a contract are of legal age, there is no restriction on which
- or races
of people can enter into a contract.
There is also no restriction on how many parties may be part of a contract.
Contracts can be revised over time to take into account new circumstances, which could help address and streamline divorce – or in some cases even avoid it entirely.
In this construct, government doesn’t have to jump (or be dragged) through hoops deciding who is eligible to marry; all you have to be is of legal age and mentally competent to enter into a contract. So a lot of perceived or real “moral crises” about who can marry just fall away.
And this view of marriage is an adjunct to, not a replacement for, the traditional kind. If you want to acknowledge certain religious strictures or practices, they can be written into the contract for your marriage — without becoming part of the contract of everyone’s.
So long as we think of contracts as “family law,” marriage contracts will be burdened with requirements, restrictions, and expectations that do not adhere to any other contract. Seeing marriage as what it actually is, however, can result in a simpler system for everyone. It’s not the end — but it might be a pretty good beginning.