Same-sex marriage has been at the forefront of socio-political debate for decades. There are a good deal of economic benefits that same-sex couples miss out on, but there are some risks they also don’t have to face if they aren’t able to marry.
For centuries, the Catholic Church had people on staff to argue against a person receiving sainthood, a position called “advocatus diaboli,” or the “Devil’s advocate” or “Devil’s lawyer.” A legion of lawyer jokes has ensued.
Currently, one of the most divisive issues in America is same-sex marriage. It has been posited that same-sex marriages would bring economic benefits. Tax revenues would increase, more couples would buy homes and so forth. However, just to play devil’s advocate for a moment, there are some risks of marriage that same-sex couples miss out on by not being able to marry.
For a start, the lawyers
Close to half of all marriages end in divorce, which is a substantial cost in and of itself. A 2001 Bankrate article asserts divorce as a $28 billion per year industry. Each divorce, just as every marriage, is unique and the cost varies depending on certain circumstances, according to Forbes. Some people merely have to file a few forms, which can run only a few hundred dollars at most. However, if there is conflict, that’s when the costs really add up.
A mediated divorce, in which a judge handles a non-court hearing to reach middle ground, can run more than $5,000. A collaborative divorce, in which attorneys for both parties reach a settlement without mediation or going to court, can cost up to $3,000 per soon-to-be ex-spouse. A divorce trial is much worse, as a two-day trial can add $25,000 or more to the total costs. Those are just the legal costs; the costs of dividing assets or support payments are not included. The average child support payment was $230 per month in 2009, according to the Census Bureau.
One for you, 19 for me
A benefit of same-sex marriage for government is, according to SmartMoney, is that more people would incur the “marriage penalty” and pay more in tax. The downside is that more people would incur the marriage penalty and pay more in tax. Tax laws change all the time, but in 2001, according to MSN, the average marriage penalty was $1,380, paid extra in taxes by 42 percent of married couples. This was reduced by the “Bush tax cuts,” according to USA Today, but will return if those tax cuts expire.
Unfortunately for those couples already married in states that allow it or in domestic partnerships, the IRS doesn’t recognize same-sex marriages or domestic unions, according to the Wall Street Journal.
USA Today: http://www.usatoday.com/money/perfi/columnist/block/story/2012-02-13/couples-finances-money-marriage/53082038/1
Wall Street Journal: http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703561604576150332819819692.html
Census Bureau: http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/children/cb09-170.html