Single, Married or Divorced: Who's the Most Fortunate Financially?
It pays to have a partner (if you can make it last)
There are lots of benefits to being single. You have full authoritative control over the television remote, you can sleep on any side of the bed (or even roll between both if you so fancy), and no one will dare tell you that they're tired of having tacos (or even take-out) for dinner.
However, when it comes to finances, and despite the fact that single people contribute nearly $1.9 trillion to the economy each year, it's the legally-binded pairs that America grants the ultimate advantages—so much so that Business Insider recently declared getting married the "smartest money move" a single person can make.
But what if you're not in love yet? Well, your tax accountant, health insurance provider, mortgage loan officer and landlord may advise that you hop to.
In February, CBS reported that nearly 50 percent of married mates who file jointly, especially those with large income disparities, pay less in taxes than singles do. Comparatively, solo citizens pay anywhere from 10 to 50 percent more than their coupled counterparts.
Simply put and truthfully stated, "There's a tax benefit to being married—the deduction, for one thing. There's just a lower tax bracket for married couples," said Alan Frisher, a certified divorce financial analyst and president of the Florida Alimony Reform.
Also, when it comes to buying a house, it's better if done in harmony. "If you're not married, then you can't assume equal ownership of a home," said author Ellie Kay, known as America's Family Financial Expert. "And in the event of a breakup, the house will go to the person that maybe put in 75 percent of the upfront money or has the larger salary. You're not legally protected. And it usually ends up being the woman with the short end of the stick."
(Nor do renters catch a break; CBS noted that 80 percent of landlords prefer married couples.)
Kay adds that shacking-up sacrilegiously doesn't appeal to health insurance providers either. "A lot of them don't recognize domestic partners, only spouses," she said. "And buying two individual plans can be much more expensive, while benefits to a spouse can be tax-free."
And that's not the only type of discounted insurance married couples can accrue. CBS reported that wedded wives and husbands pay up to 50 percent less on auto insurance under the assumption that they are less likely to engage in risky behavior.
As of 2010, at 48 percent, nearly half of all Americans claimed singlehood, totaling out to 114 million. And though having good fortune in their financial circumstances seems slim, being a divorcee can be even more damaging to one's pockets.
"The funny thing is when we get married in our society, a simple notary can do the marriage," said Frisher. "You get a license and have a little party; there are really no guidebooks for it. But when you want to get divorced, a whole other process occurs; you have to hire attorneys that see dollar signs and initiate more animosity, and you get thrown into this horrific abusive system that paints you more like a criminal than anything else. Divorce laws really are anti-family and anti-marriage. You could lose your life savings, you could lose your life."
All things considered, women are left looking for the lesser of two evils. Some are willing to forgo the wedding altogether (and maybe forever).
"As much as women really want the commitment that marriage is, because their earning power is increasing, there are some who are beginning to say, 'Why marry again? Or at all?," said Susan Shapiro Barash, author of "The Nine Phases of Marriage: How to Make It, Break It, Keep It." "They think, 'If I make enough money, why do I need to share it with some guy? I've had enough unhappy, failed relationships. I can have a longstanding monogamous one and protect my finances better than if I actually marry this man.'"
Ultimately, however, there's still one golden rule. "In no case is it good to get married just because of the money," said Kay.