Distinctive features of marriage

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The case for marriage rests in part on the nature of marriage and the processes of relationship formation and maintenance that surround it. It is not simply a couple relationship with a distinct legal status and any evaluation of marriage must include all its features.

  • Marriage is a legal relationship that offers protection to its parties in a way that is very hard to replicate by separate agreements. The Law Commission recognises that many people wrongly believe that there is such a concept as ‘common law’ marriage which offers cohabiting couples similar protection. http://www.official-documents.gov.uk/document/cm71/7182/7182.pdf 
  • Marriage makes a clear distinction between public and private relationships. Its public nature clarifies third-party obligations: there is no doubt, for example, that a married spouse should receive widow’s benefits but there

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