Is Marriage a Legal Contract?


According to law professor Eugene Volokh, marriage is indeed a form of contract.

UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh has a fascinating post in which responds to a reader’s question, “Is Marriage a Legal Contract?” This is an interesting aspect to the legal relationship we call marriage. Volokh discusses the privileges and benefits that flow between the parties, and concludes:

So marriage is a contract, and has long been described as a contract, but it’s a very peculiar kind of contract that has its own special legal rules. To ask whether marriage is “technically” a contract doesn’t make much sense, because it presupposes a single unique meaning for the term “contract.” If by contract you mean “a contract as typically defined at law,” which is to say a contract that has most of the legal consequences that a typical contract has, then the answer is “largely not,” because marriage contracts have such specialized legal consequences. If by contract you mean “something the law has typically labeled a contract,” the answer is “probably yes,” simply because “marriage contract” has long been a common term. If by contract you mean “a mutual agreement that the law treats as binding as a consequence of the parties’ having agreed to it,” then the answer is “yes.”

Read the whole thing.


About Kirk Garner

My primary area of practice is family law, including divorce, child custody, child support modification and enforcement, and grandparent rights. I have extensive experience representing parents and children in suits involving child protective services. In addition to family law, I handle probate matters–including drafting wills, admitting wills to probate, administration and guardianship; and general civil litigation. In my spare time, I spend time with my family enjoying the beautiful outdoors of Colorado.
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