Is Marriage a Legal 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.