A new marriage trend features friends, not romantic partners, tying the knot. However, many are not aware of potential legal issues that could upend a happy, albeit platonic, marriage.
The New York Times recently covered this emerging trend in which best friends are formalizing their friendship with marriage bonds. People who marry their best friends enjoy almost every positive aspect attached to a traditional spouse—an emotional wellspring, a confidant, a “go-to person” as one spouse phrased it. The one thing these relationships lack is a sexual element. While the emotional benefit of such a relationship is good news, it is the legal and financial ramifications that have raised concerns among some who believe that platonic marriages are taking advantage of the system.
Are marriages between friends legal?
The legal advantages of a marriage are vast, ranging from tax benefits to green cards. For this reason, most states have enacted safeguards to make sure that the people enjoying these advantages are in legitimate marriages and are not simply doing so for convenience. In fact, only three states, Maryland, Maine and Colorado, allow people who are just friends to establish domestic partnerships.
It is not known how many people in the U.S. are living in platonic marriages. It is likely the practice far predates the present day when such bonds are announced on social media and amplified by news reports. If some states should decide to scrutinize such marriages and impose legal penalties, it opens the door to a number of novel legal questions: What is a “legitimate” marriage? If my spouse can be my best friend, why can’t he just be my friend? Whose business is it if a married couple is sexually attracted to each other or not?
Navigating an uncertain future
U.S. marriage laws have evolved sharply over the last decade, and platonic marriages may very well have their day in court. If you have questions about asexual marriages or any aspect of matrimonial law, discuss your needs with an experienced family law attorney who stays updated on all developments in the legal world.