The 9 Different Marriage Legal Structures

Get Free Email Updates!

Join us for FREE to get instant email updates!


When someone hears the word “married,” they automatically assume it’s the standard type of marriage pushed by Societal Programming, which I’ve always called TMM (traditional monogamous marriage), a term I listed in my glossary long ago. To be fair, some form of TMM usually is what people are talking about. However, more and more people are quietly, and often secretly, using other types of marriage more conducive to financial security and long-term, consistent happiness.

-By Caleb Jones

That’s the problem with the word “marriage.” It isn’t specific enough. Today I’m going to show you several types of marriages, all of which are reasonably common these days; more so than you might expect. If this were the 1950’s, there would only be one type of marriage. Today, in our world of sky-high divorce rates, sky-high taxes, devalued currencies, intrusive laws, divorce rape, high technology, more options for sex (particularly via online dating), and weaker economies, there are many types of marriages, not just the one your mom has been nagging out you about.

One of these is the OLTR Marriage, something I’ve been talking about wanting to do for at least five years, going all the way back to 2012 when I wrote this article which gave some specific examples of how I would go about structuring such relationship.Three years ago, I wrote this article defending the idea that most men (including me) want to move in with a woman in their older years. There are some men over 40 who never want to move in with a woman and consider the idea insane. That’s great, but these men are the exception to the rule, even within the Alpha Male/player/PUA world. Most guys, even players and former players, do indeed want to settle down (in some form or fashion) once they climb over age 35 or so.

Two years ago, I also wrote this article about exactly how to move in with a woman, and this article answering the objections men had for an OLTR Marriage, where I went into detail about how an OLTR Marriage isn’t nearly as bad of a thing as some men fear.

I’ve been talking about OLTR Marriage for a very long time; those are just a few of the articles I’ve written about this topic. Recently, when mentioned I was looking at getting an engagement ring for my OLTR, a few low-reading-comprehension idiots on various web sites ignored all of this writing and analysis, and immediately assumed that I was getting monogamous, traditionally married, going back on everything I’ve ever said about traditional marriage, and was becoming a pussywhipped beta. Fortunately, most of you are not that stupid, and actually know how to read, and understood that buying a woman a ring and calling it an engagement ring can mean anything you want it to mean.

If course I will never do any of those above items, since, you know, I’ve been talking about wanting to attempt a live-in OLTR Marriage for at least five years now. (I could now go off on a tangent about how I am the most ideologically consistent content provider in the entire manosphere/PUA world, in terms of walking my talk over the past near-decade, how none of my opinions on any of these topics have changed, and how it’s a little insulting that anyone would think otherwise. But I’m full of sweetness and love, so I’ll spare you that today.)

The most important thing to remember is that the word “marriage,” and any other charged Societal Programming word surrounding it (like engagement, wedding, vows, bachelor party, honeymoon, etc) can mean whatever you want them to mean. They do not have to mean the TMM type of marriage society is constantly pressuring you to have.

Here’s exactly what I mean. The Nine Types of Marriage
There are many aspects to both TMM and OLTR Marriages, including the types of sex allowed (monogamy, open, semi-open, swinging, threesomes, etc), the financial structure, the legal structure, the living arrangements, and so on. I cover all of those aspects in my open marriage ebook, and I’ll have much more to say about these things later, but today I’m going to focus only on the legal structure of these different types of marriages. There are about nine different ways you can do it, and I'll describe each.

Before I do, it’s time for another one of my happy-fun disclaimers:
Happy-Fun Disclaimer: I am not an attorney, have no legal expertise whatsoever, and you should not take any legal advice from me, which I am not giving. Every city, state/province, and country has massively different laws regarding marriage and co-habitation with a woman. You must check with a local attorney before doing ANYTHING like moving in with a woman, married or not.

That’s the first step before moving in with any woman under any conditions (married or not). As I described in my article on how to move in with a woman, you MUST consult with an attorney in your local city to make sure you understand all the laws regarding:

Common law marriage
“Marriage like” relationships
Tenant/landlord applications to anyone living with you
If you don’t do this before moving in with a woman (again, married or not), then not only are you a reckless idiot, but nothing I can tell you below (or anywhere else) can help you, since it may or may not apply where you live.

With that in mind, listed below are the nine legal structures under which you can marry a woman. Again, not all of them apply to all cities, but it will give you a good overview. I will start with the worst one of them all.

1. Civil License, No Prenup -
This the worst and most common marriage option. Under this option, you both get legally married via a working judge by signing something called a civil marriage license. This is a horrible and deadly three-way, binding, legal contract between you, her, and big government. It instantly combines all your finances (all of your debts, assets, and leases) with her finances, with no legal division whatsoever. She owns 50% of your stuff and you own 50% of hers, regardless of anything else. Her debts become your debts, and creditors and the government can go after you for her past loans, and even past-due taxes, and there’s nothing you can do about it.

When you get divorced (because statistically you will unless you're already over age 60), the government will put a shotgun to your head and force you to give her 50% of your assets (at least!) plus possibly alimony payments (paid to her monthly even if you have no children), and throw your ass in prison if you can’t pay it, even if you can't afford these payments through no fault of your own (bad economy, fraud, etc).

As I’ve been screaming to the rooftops for almost 10 years, this is the absolute worst way to get married for a man in the modern era. There is literally no compelling reason to incur this amount of risk and pain. (And if you think there is, please read this.)

2. Civil License, Weak Prenup -
This is exactly like option one, except the both of you also sign a prenuptial agreement that spells out what you want to have happen when you get divorced. Not what will happen, but what you want to have happen.

The problem is that, as the entire Western world continues to move further left, prenuptial agreements in most countries and cities aren’t worth the paper they’re printed on, and this is getting worse every year. Local marriage and divorce laws (of which there are thousands) can and usually will override your prenup no matter how “legal” it feels. As just one example, in the state of California, if you get divorced after 10 years, you are legally required to pay your wife monthly alimony forever, even if she signed a perfectly legal and court-approved prenup. The judge simply overrules your prenup in favor of the local law, which almost always takes precedence. As usual, big government always wins. This marriage option is pretty much as horrible as option one, and you should not do it.
3. Civil License, Enforceable Prenup
This is just like option two, except with two differences:

1. You are lucky enough to live in a city/state/province/country that actually enforces prenuptial agreements for men when they get divorced. (There are very few of these places left in the slowly collapsing Western world. Soon, I predict there will be none.)

2. You have spent significant time (and likely even some money) before the marriage, researching all the laws in your city, including precedent-setting case law, to make absolutely sure your prenup is indeed enforceable. This is a little better than options one and two, but there are two challenges with it.

The first problem is that a prenuptial agreement defines what happens when you get divorced. It does not help at all while you’re married. If you beat the odds and never get divorced, but she has a shitload of debt, or crappy credit, or past due taxes, or legal liabilities, or anything else like that, creditors and the government can come after you to collect that debt. This is because, prenup or not, once you sign that civil license, your financial lives are combined.

So, for example, while married to her, one of her creditor comes after you for her medical loans. You wave your prenup in their faces, saying that this isn’t your problem, and they just laugh and demand your money, and possibly even screw up your credit record if you don’t pay. Your prenup, enforceable as it is, has little power over them, because you aren’t divorced. (And yes, I have seen men married with good prenups go through this exact problem.)

Sure, you could spend thousands of dollars to take them to court to convince them that you aren’t liable for the money, and you will probably win after all that crap, but you still lose. Sure, you could spend your life on the telephone with various credit agencies correcting your credit record and credit score when they damage it going after your wife’s debts, but does that sound fun to you?

If she had absolutely zero debt, a pristine credit score, and a long history of perfect financial behavior (which means she cannot be young, since younger women don't have a long history of anything), then you could make the argument that a civil license with an enforceable prenup is okay, and I might agree with you. However, we have a second problem...

Your enforceable prenup may not be enforceable, or as enforceable, as you thought when you get divorced down the road. If you get divorced (and always remember that statistically speaking, you will!), you probably are not going to get divorced one two years later; if you don’t do anything irrational or stupid, you’re more likely to get divorced many years later. As I said, laws are constantly moving away from men and toward women. This means that during your marriage, you’re going to have to constantly check the laws in your city/state/province for the rest of your life to see if they’ve changed.

You may have to constantly update your prenup to reflect new laws. This costs money, time, and stress. Women do not like signing prenuptial agreements... and you’re going to make her sign one every few years for the rest of your marriage? Have fun enjoying that drama. And what if, during your marriage, they simply pass a law rendering prenups useless? What then? You're screwed, and no better off than the guy who chose option one.

Years ago, when I was first talking about OLTR Marriage, the enforceable prenup was a decent option that I recommended. While I’m not 100% against this option yet, over the years this option has moved from “safe” to somewhere between “mediocre” and “somewhat risky,” depending on you, her, and your individual financial scenarios. It’s going to take a lot of work, and you’re going to have to be very, very careful. Having that little piece of paper (the civil license) that no one knows about may not be worth the risk and work in many cases.

4. Civil License, Illegally Hiding Assets -
Under this marriage option, you sign a civil license, possibly get a prenup (either a weak one or an enforceable one), just like in one of the three above options. You then take the bulk of your assets and hide them away in some distant set of investments, usually outside of your country. You never tell your wife about them, never report them on your taxes, and you hide the paper trail from everyone. When you get divorced, theoretically you’ll be able to keep the assets since no one knows about them.

Doing this is patently illegal and you’ll be breaking a variety of tax, divorce, and statutory laws. You might get away with it, or you might get caught and go to prison. To be fair, I’ve seen some men get away with this. I’ve also seen some men get their asses nailed when the divorcing wife, or someone in her family, hired a private investigator to go after the guy’s assets, or when the guy made a paperwork error. So, while I realize this option might work, I cannot recommend it. As I talk about in my book, the Alpha Male 2.0 does not break the law, since the risk of having your freedom taken away by going to prison isn’t worth it.

5. Foreign Civil License While Living In the West -
Under this option, you get a civil license with your wife, but you get it while on vacation in a distant, likely third-world country where things like financial merging, communal property (her getting “half”) and alimony don’t apply. Then, when you come back home, your home country might not recognize the civil license. If this is the case, your finances stay separate, and if you get divorced nothing much really happens.The trick here is that many Western countries actually do recognize foreign marriages to some degree, so it’s possible your wife you married in Bangladesh could appeal to the local American or European judge for communal property and/or alimony. She might get it, she might not.

Again, it’s up to you to research the laws in your local city to see if a foreign marriage is a safe option for you or not. As always, be very careful.
6. Co-Habitation Agreement -
This type of marriage is a legal contract that is the equivalent of a prenuptial agreement without a civil license. The assets and debts of the two spouses remain separate, though there is still some legal binding between the two of them, both within the agreement itself and within the laws regarding co-habitation in your local city, so you need to be prudent in covering all the bases.

In many jurisdictions, weird things like common law marriage may still apply (this is when the law treats you both as if a civil license has been signed after X number of years of co-habitation, even though it never actually was signed in real life). This depends on the city/state/province, how you arrange your finances, and how long the marriage is. Again, be careful, and research this stuff thoroughly before actually doing it.

7. Foreign Civil License While Living Abroad -
Under this option, you permanently move out of the Western world and marry a woman while you live in the third world for the rest of your life. In many countries (Columbia comes to mind, as just one example) there are no real divorce laws, so things like communal property, alimony, and even child support aren’t present.

Most men are never going to permanently leave the West (though I am in a few years), but this is still a perfectly viable option for many, as I described already when I talked about the 9 Options for Men As They Age.

8. Domestic Partnership -
This type of marriage is a legal contract that gives the spouses the ability to do things like file jointly on insurance forms, visit each other in the hospital as family members, inherit assets when one partner dies, receiving government pensions, and similar aspects. Common law aspects and mingling of assets may or may not apply, depending on the jurisdiction, which varies widely from region to region. As usual, you’ll have to do some legal research to see exactly what a domestic partnership entails in your local city.

9. Unmarriage -
This is when two people just move in with each other, don’t sign anything, and just tell everyone they’re married. They still have a wedding, the woman still gets an engagement ring, and she may even change her last name to his last name, but there’s nothing in writing between them. I am surprised at the number of marriages I've seen like this lately, including within my own family. It's rapidly becoming more popular, even though most people are completely unaware of these marriages.

This kind of marriage is often at risk for common law and “marriage like” relationships, where the woman is due a sort of alimony (called palimony) if the marriage ends, depending on how long the co-habitation lasts and how finances are arranged. As usual, check your local laws before doing anything.

These are, for the most part, all the “primary” ways to get married, though there are even more ways than this, such as a postnuptial agreements, religious marriage, and a few other usual arrangements. (If I have forgotten any, please let me know in the comments so we can make a complete list.)

To answer the question I know is coming, I will never publicly reveal the financial or legal details of any marriage I will or will not have, now or in the future. As I’ve stated many times over the years (particularly at my other blog), I do not reveal personal financial or personal legal information over the internet to the public (and neither should you). You’re just going to have to guess based on this and the many other articles I've already written about this topic.

The bottom line is that the word “marriage” means whatever the hell you want it to mean, regardless of weddings, engagement rings, and all the other usual Societal Programming trappings. It should be what works best for you and her, not what works best for society, your Societal Programming, your religion, your ego, or your mom. As always, no matter how excited or in love you are, keep your head about you, stay rational, move very slowly, do your research, stay Alpha, always maintain outcome independence, and don’t be an idiot. Your long-term happiness is what is most important here, not conforming to whatever society says certain words should mean.

Want over 35 hours of how-to podcasts on how to improve your woman life and financial life? Want to be able to coach with me twice a month? Want access to hours of technique-based video and audio? The SMIC Program is a monthly podcast and coaching program where you get access to massive amounts of exclusive, members-only Alpha 2.0 content as soon as you sign up, and you can cancel whenever you want. Click here for the details.
[xyz-ips snippet="comments"]