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Possibly marriage for other reasons...?

 
 
Reply Sat 30 Apr, 2005 05:19 am
Hello all,

I am currently 18 years old. I am knee-deep in the wonderful process of college applications, financial aid, etc., and came up with an idea.

After speaking with a female friend of mine (completely plutonic), we both agreed that it might be in our best interest (financially) to get married. In doing so, we would be viewed independent of our parents on any FAFSA forms/institutional aid, and we would be able to attend our respective #1 schools.

Neither of us have any qualms with the religious aspect of marriage, as this would purely be a legal 'contract', and she is 18 as well.

My question concerns the possible ramifications of doing such an act; I don't believe that fraud would be possible, as, to be honest, there's no real way anyone can prove that we don't love each other.

Is there something that I'm missing from the equation that is making this look like the best idea? Before anyone asks, my parents earn too much money to qualify for financial aid but are unwilling to help me finance my college education. The same applies for her.

Thanks.
lemontree
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Type: Discussion • Score: 2 • Views: 2,575 • Replies: 27
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Letty
 
  1  
Reply Sat 30 Apr, 2005 05:47 am
lemontree, welcome to A2K. Many people enter into contract marriage, but for different reasons other than the one you cited. I'm not certain why you should have to prove that you love each other, however.

The thing that I don't understand is why your respective parents won't fund your college education, especially if they can afford it.

As for the ramifications, I have no idea about the legal aspects of such a union, but I do think you are both rather young to be making such a decision. Perhaps you should both delay arriving at a solution until you examine all aspects, both emotional and practical.
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lemontree
 
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Reply Sat 30 Apr, 2005 05:56 am
letty:

thanks for your response.

as far as i know, my parents are one of those 'we make too much money, but we don't have the money to give you' types. i've tried to get them to explain it to me, but they tend to refuse saying it's none of my business. what it boils down to is the fact that my father makes a large sum of money, but he has numerous debts due to extraneous circumstances (i've already spoken with financial aid officers about this, and they always dismiss it as 'not extraneous enough'). i haven't really questioned her as to her parents' problems, but i imagine they might be similar.

as far as the emotional consequences of such a union, i don't feel that there would be any. we're both very good friends (not to mention that i'm actually gay, just to further reinforce the pure legality of the issue), and we'd like to help each other out. this seems to be the best option and it might allow us to go to our dream schools.

i'm a bit worried about any possible legal problems that might come up, but from what i've been able to glean from my websearching, getting married really only comes into effect during tax-time. am i right in this suspect or are there other negative things about marriage?

thanks.
-lemontree
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Phoenix32890
 
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Reply Sat 30 Apr, 2005 06:04 am
I agree with Letty. It might also be a good idea to run it by an attorney. Perhaps a pre-nup might be in order, so that you don't get into legal tangles later. You may not have money now, but someday you might, and your "wife" may want a goodly share of it, if you decide to divorce.
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Letty
 
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Reply Sat 30 Apr, 2005 06:05 am
lemontree, there are a couple of lawyers on this forum. I'll see what I can do to contact them.

How about scholarships? Have you both considered that? You indeed have a unique situation, and I see no problem with what you both plan to do, but I really can't advise you.
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sozobe
 
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Reply Sat 30 Apr, 2005 08:36 am
Interesting solution, lemontree!

I like the idea of a pre-nup.

Definitely suggest that you talk to a lawyer, as a general concept. There could well be drawbacks that us laypeople wouldn't think of.
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lemontree
 
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Reply Sat 30 Apr, 2005 08:47 am
thanks for your replies.

letty: thanks for getting in contact with the lawyer folks. i don't know anybody on this forum as of now Sad. also, as far as scholarships go, i have applied to quite a few. my main problem is that i'm on a gap year at a boarding school in england (via a fully-paid scholarship, actually), and the majority of the ones on fastweb.com, etc., require you to be an american high school student. it's a catch-22 of sorts, really.

phoenix32890: as of now, the only way we would get married is if we would get a divorce down the line.

sozobe: thanks, i'd like to think it would work, but the pre-nup sounds rather intimidating (and costly). and hopefully the lawyers on the forum will be able to help me...
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Letty
 
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Reply Sat 30 Apr, 2005 08:55 am
I invited Joe from the windy city. He's a lawyer, but that's about all that we can do, my friend. Yes, you mentioned that you were gay, and we understand your situation.

Good luck, lemontree. Be certain that you check on those scholarships. You sound bright and capable, and that might just be something that will help you.
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ossobuco
 
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Reply Sat 30 Apr, 2005 09:09 am
Does your friend intend to date men? Being married, however loosely followed, strikes me as a practical obstacle for her.

I'm not very enthused about the ethical implications of the subterfuge, even though I have empathy for your situation.

I couldn't get a state scholarship at the time I was a freshman either, since my dad had made a sum over the maximum the previous year, and that sum in two six week periods; never mind that he was virtually unemployed between those weeks and for years after.

I ended up going to a state university and living at home. That option was available as the university was local, and there was then no tuition (that was in the good old days). Obviously I was lucky to be able to do that.
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sozobe
 
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Reply Sat 30 Apr, 2005 09:13 am
Yeah, I have some ethical problems with that, too. I was in a similar situation, my parents didn't make a lot of money but the financial aid office computed that they could contribute much, MUCH more than they actually did. My dad claimed me as a dependent on his tax forms when he hadn't actually given me enough money to legally do so. That sort of thing.

By the "if everyone did it" rule, that would seriously subvert the process in a bad way. It removes consequences from the parents who planned badly.
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Frank Apisa
 
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Reply Sat 30 Apr, 2005 09:20 am
Ethics and honesty are very important to me...but in this case, I'd put any perceived ethical considerations aside.

There are no rules for getting married...and your reasons for doing so are as good as any others.

I see that Joe's been asked to stop by...and he will certainly give you advice about the practicality and the legal implications...but "playing the system" is as ethical as "playing the rules" in golf.

Good luck.

It is too bad that a thing like an education can subject to the availabliity of money.

Somehow, society has gotten things ass backwards.
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lemontree
 
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Reply Sat 30 Apr, 2005 09:20 am
i can understand how people might have ethical problems with it, but i'm really more interested in the 'legality' of the issue.

in my mind, i'm just as deserving to go to the college i want as anyone else. why should i be punished for money my parents earn if they aren't going to support me? the majority of the funding would ultimately come from the school, however, as they have limits on federal financial aid which fall desperately short of the cost of the school i'm looking at attending.

perhaps the best thing about the school i'd like to go to is that they have an extremely high rate (98% or more) of fulfilling all need-based demonstrated aid, which should effectively cover me.
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Bekaboo
 
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Reply Sat 30 Apr, 2005 12:03 pm
I'm intrigued... which boarding school are you at in England? (just cos i live in England and know people at most of the major boarding schools... you never know, i might know you Wink) Is you're wife-to-be with you in the UK? Is she also American? Are you planning on going to the same institutions?
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lemontree
 
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Reply Sat 30 Apr, 2005 12:07 pm
i go to a school in north yorkshire, with a ridiculous name that sounds like it's straight out of harry potter. Smile

my potential wife is american, and she wouldn't be attending the same school as me (not that that would be a problem, as far as i know).
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Letty
 
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Reply Sat 30 Apr, 2005 12:39 pm
You're a Brit? Well, my goodness, lemontree. Are you planning on going to college in the states? Shocked

That makes a world of difference, my young friend.
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lemontree
 
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Reply Sat 30 Apr, 2005 02:28 pm
no no no no!!! don't get confused, haha.

i've already graduated from high school (class of 2004) in America (and am an american citizen, mind you), but i was awarded a post-graduate scholarship to attend a private school in England for a year (basically for cultural experience, etc.). that's why i'm in england; i'm definitely not a brit!

just clarifying Smile
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Letty
 
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Reply Sat 30 Apr, 2005 02:34 pm
Well, thank goodness, lemontree. It just occurred to me that if you put this post in the legal forum, you might get a more accurate response.
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joefromchicago
 
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Reply Mon 2 May, 2005 08:20 am
Re: Possibly marriage for other reasons...?
Thanks for the invite, Letty; I don't usually visit this forum, so I wouldn't have known anything about this thread unless specifically alerted.*

lemontree: My initial response would be: "marriage is never the solution." And that's only half-joking. Marriage might provide some kind of boost to your chances of receiving financial aid, but then again maybe not. Have you talked to the financial aid officers of your #1 colleges to see if they consider married couples to be financially independent of their parents? Would you enjoy the same boost if you were merely emancipated rather than married?

As for any implications of fraud, that doesn't seem to be an issue here. That would be a much bigger problem if either of you were a foreign national attempting to get into the US, but that's not the case with you.

A bigger problem, though, is what will happen in the future. After you graduate from college, what do you intend to do? A divorce, even the most amicable, can be a trying and expensive proposition. A pre-nuptial agreement is not a bad idea; at this point in your lives, you probably have very few assets, and will probably not acquire any major assets (like real estate) in the next 4-5 years. Still, you'll need to keep records for any major purchases (stereos, computers, automobiles, etc.) to make sure that the person who paid for them gets to keep them.

Finally, a scheme like this depends on how much you trust the other person to keep her end of the bargain. An aggrieved spouse can really screw up a perfectly good divorce, no matter how carefully you've planned for that special event.

These are all important considerations; even a sham marriage should not be entered into lightly. I would weigh them all very carefully before taking this big step.

*EDIT: I wrote this when I thought this thread was still in the Relationships Forum. I visit the Law Forum all the time.
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lemontree
 
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Reply Mon 2 May, 2005 09:36 am
joe:

thank you for your response.

i have discussed the matter with the college i would be attending and they view married students independent (they follow the same rules as those that apply for the granting of Federal aid, i.e. either over 24, veteran of the army, ward of the court, or married). there is no chance of an emancipation from my parents (trust me, we've looked into it extensively, haha).

good to hear on the fraud front, at least i can set that aside.

when you say that a divorce can be expensive, how so? i understand the possible "that's not yours that's mine" banter, but (and i'm working under a hypothetical situation, mind you), supposing that wasn't to happen, how much are the actual fees to get a divorce? after searching a few sites, i have heard everything from around 100$ to 300$. i suppose it matters whether or not you get an actual lawyer into the mix, which we wouldn't do.

as far as trust, i would trust the girl with my life. i have no doubt she would do the same, so there's almost no reason to worry about agrieving any spouse.

is there any manner in which i could form a pre-nup without the help of a lawyer? the cost is somewhat prohibitive, and seems a bit unnecessary otherwise.

thanks for the help!
lemontree
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joefromchicago
 
  1  
Reply Tue 3 May, 2005 09:37 am
lemontree wrote:
good to hear on the fraud front, at least i can set that aside.

Well, let me be clear: I am only offering my best guess. An attorney, more familiar with matrimonial law and the laws of your state, would be able to give you a more considered opinion.

lemontree wrote:
when you say that a divorce can be expensive, how so? i understand the possible "that's not yours that's mine" banter, but (and i'm working under a hypothetical situation, mind you), supposing that wasn't to happen, how much are the actual fees to get a divorce? after searching a few sites, i have heard everything from around 100$ to 300$. i suppose it matters whether or not you get an actual lawyer into the mix, which we wouldn't do.

I've never heard of a "do-it-yourself" divorce, but I suppose it's possible. Likewise, I don't know what it costs to get divorced, nor do I know what it will cost four or five years from now (which is probably the earliest you plan on getting divorced). Obviously, an amicable divorce with few assets to split is much less expensive than a contested one with many common assets.

lemontree wrote:
as far as trust, i would trust the girl with my life. i have no doubt she would do the same, so there's almost no reason to worry about agrieving any spouse.

I say with some melancholy experience behind me that such friendships do not always last.

lemontree wrote:
is there any manner in which i could form a pre-nup without the help of a lawyer? the cost is somewhat prohibitive, and seems a bit unnecessary otherwise.

Pre-nups, like any other contract, can be handled without a lawyer. Nolo Press, the one-stop shop for legal do-it-yourselfers, has a guide to prenuptial agreements. I offer no opinions on the value of these self-help guides, but can only repeat the old warning: a person who acts as his own lawyer has a fool for a client.
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