Author Topic: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?  (Read 11124 times)

SomedayStache

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 760
  • Live Long and Prosper
Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« on: February 03, 2015, 09:22:31 AM »
Do people do this?  How could this backfire?  Marriage is cheap - but I know nothing of divorce.

I can't find a lot of talk of this online...so it seems like I must be missing a big drawback here.

[Backstory:  I got married at 19 (for love). My independent student status=Pell Grants and this combined with working my ass off waiting tables got me an engineering degree with only $3k of student loans.  The restaurant I worked with was staffed mostly by other college students who were also getting zero help from their parents.  But unlike myself they had to include their parent's income on the FAFSA.  One of the cooks was a 19-yr-old married person like myself and even after he separated from his wife they couldn't get divorced because it would have messed with their FAFSA.]

jackiechiles2

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 124
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #1 on: February 03, 2015, 09:30:31 AM »
Well in a sham marriage, you'd face the risk of some sort of criminal prosecution for attempting to defraud/actually defrauding the government if your scheme was ever unearthed.  You'd also risk putting whatever you earned during the period of your sham marriage at risk of being halved if the other party in the sham decided to force the issue.  You could also be stuck paying for alimony etc., if the other party decided to go after you when the time to end the sham marriage arrived. 

You also run the risk of being responsible for the other party's medical bills (depending on your state) and other "necessaries" that allow creditors to collect against either spouse for debts incurred for necessaries.

ShoulderThingThatGoesUp

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3057
  • Location: Emmaus, PA
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #2 on: February 03, 2015, 09:35:15 AM »
Stupid thing to break the law for. I'm not a "the law's the law" kind of guy, but fraud is pretty bad in my eyes.

iamadummy

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 93
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #3 on: February 03, 2015, 09:37:10 AM »
good luck

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7988
  • Location: United States
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #4 on: February 03, 2015, 10:37:03 AM »
good luck

Did you read the post? The OP doesn't seem to be asking advice about doing it for him/herself.

couponvan

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5784
  • Location: VA
    • My journal
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #5 on: February 03, 2015, 10:55:23 AM »
One of my former co-workers "sort of" did this with a Vegas marriage that was a "mistake" but not really a sham.  They had no idea how it would affect their FAFSAs and got married on a lark. 

In the end, even though it made college cheaper, she ended up paying spousal support to her ex-husband because she made more than him after college when they decided to legally divorce.  She might have been better off doing the divorce her last year of college and paying the extra penalties after the 3 years married/3years support she had to give her ex.

I don't recommend a "sham" marriage....If you're in love, then great.  If not, then maybe going into the miliary is a better option, as that also makes you independent on the FAFSA.

SomedayStache

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 760
  • Live Long and Prosper
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #6 on: February 03, 2015, 11:06:10 AM »
Some good points.  Would most of these issues be avoided with a pre-nup?

Two young folks in college barely scraping by aren't going to be making a lot.  So I don't see worries about needing to halve whatever you earn during the marriage as being a problem.
If one of the two develops medical issues that seems like a good time for an early divorce.
Spousal support after graduation because one party makes more is a worry.  Like I said I have no divorce experience.

I titled the post 'sham' marriage so it would be very clear what the thought was.  But as I follow this thought experiment more I don't see true fraud.  Two people legally married are legally married.  The inner workings of a marriage are a private matter.  Can someone explain how this is breaking the law?

kittyshooz

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 4
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #7 on: February 03, 2015, 12:12:48 PM »
I have friends who did this exact thing. They were good friends, but did not live together. They got married for independent status (she was also from out of the country, so she became a legal resident as well). It worked out well for them and they are having an official "ceremony" now (are in love, etc), about 3 years after getting married (paperwork-wise).

I would suggest this only if you are great friends with the person and have complete trust in them. To do it with a near-stranger could be very risky.

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7988
  • Location: United States
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #8 on: February 03, 2015, 12:14:22 PM »
If someone who is not a legal resident gets married, and they don't live together (don't have an actual marriage)- there are serious repercussions if immigration finds out. 


goatmom

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 290
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #9 on: February 03, 2015, 12:29:56 PM »
My son wanted to marry his BFF for financial aid reasons.  He didn't - but I am wondering why paople don't do it.

frugalnacho

  • Magnum Stache
  • ******
  • Posts: 3320
  • Age: 36
  • Location: Madison Heights, Michigan
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #10 on: February 03, 2015, 12:36:25 PM »
If someone who is not a legal resident gets married, and they don't live together (don't have an actual marriage)- there are serious repercussions if immigration finds out.

Neither me nor my wife are immigrants, we are both about as white bread american as you can get.  What if we chose to live in different houses?  Would that make my marriage fraudulent?  Or is it just that no one cares what we do since we are both already citizens, even though we could be scamming the IRS out of money with our marriage?

caliq

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 675
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #11 on: February 03, 2015, 12:47:24 PM »
I sort of did this, but it backfired a bit :(  We were going to get married anyways, had already bought a house together (well really he paid and I picked xD), and my parents income jumped from basically 0 to around 80k in one year (sold a failing company and got a regular job again).  So we got married the year of the income jump and I would have been a lot better off, except that DH got backpay VA disability on top of working half the year and getting a pretty big monthly chunk from the VA.  FAFSA counts disability pay as income, so I'm probably going to be in about the same position I was unmarried.  This coming academic year (2015-2016) will be my first married/independent student year so I don't know for sure yet. 

jmusic

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 465
  • Location: Somewhere...
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #12 on: February 03, 2015, 12:57:31 PM »
I think the risk:reward calculus is VERY skewed on this one...  A thousand ways it could go wrong without familiarity & trust on both sides. 

Aside from the alimony issues previously mentioned, there's also the whole 50/50 assets and liabilities.  You could be saving big money, but your "spouse" could be racking up enormous credit debt in addition to student loans.  Guess who's on the hook for half?

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7988
  • Location: United States
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #13 on: February 03, 2015, 01:04:03 PM »
If someone who is not a legal resident gets married, and they don't live together (don't have an actual marriage)- there are serious repercussions if immigration finds out.

Neither me nor my wife are immigrants, we are both about as white bread american as you can get.  What if we chose to live in different houses?  Would that make my marriage fraudulent?  Or is it just that no one cares what we do since we are both already citizens, even though we could be scamming the IRS out of money with our marriage?

I don't know how much the IRS cares, as you're right- a lot of married people do live separately for some reasons, but immigration certainly does. Already being a citizen you get some benefits that someone looking for a green card/citizenship doesn't  get. 

The friends I have had who have immigrated legally said the immigration process basically treated them with the assumption that they were criminals. The one who came here through marriage told me that her interviews (separated from her husband so that answers could be compared) included color of their toothbrush, arrangement of dishes in the cabinets, etc to establish it was a real marriage, that they were living together, and it wasn't done just to get her into the country. 

If it is suspected that marriage was entered into for the sole purpose of immigration, the one person can be deported and the citizen can face penalties. One of the ways they prove this is by showing the two people do not live together as a married couple. I would assume they need more evidence than just that though, if there is a valid reason to live separately.
« Last Edit: February 03, 2015, 01:06:23 PM by iowajes »

frugaldrummer

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 629
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #14 on: February 03, 2015, 01:51:06 PM »
I've wondered about this from the reverse end - I've never heard of it, but it seems to me, older people might want to marry just for the social security benefits?
I'm picturing someone who was a low earner in their lifetime, and would have earned just the minimum of social security benefits, marrying someone who was a high wage earner, just to collect the 50% spousal social security?

Cpa Cat

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1564
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #15 on: February 03, 2015, 02:11:31 PM »
The friends I have had who have immigrated legally said the immigration process basically treated them with the assumption that they were criminals. The one who came here through marriage told me that her interviews (separated from her husband so that answers could be compared) included color of their toothbrush, arrangement of dishes in the cabinets, etc to establish it was a real marriage, that they were living together, and it wasn't done just to get her into the country. 

As a white, English-speaking immigrant, USCIS pretty much just stamped my papers. My interviews consisted of them politely asking me how I liked living in the States. My husband only came to one interview, and he was asked a couple of questions about his job and tax returns - that's it.

I think I was racially profiled. Although it's equally possible that I was economically profiled.

"I see that you're a middle-class white person. Welcome to the USA!"

Dicey

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 9928
  • Age: 61
  • Location: NorCal
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #16 on: February 03, 2015, 02:26:38 PM »
I've wondered about this from the reverse end - I've never heard of it, but it seems to me, older people might want to marry just for the social security benefits?
I'm picturing someone who was a low earner in their lifetime, and would have earned just the minimum of social security benefits, marrying someone who was a high wage earner, just to collect the 50% spousal social security?
There's a catch here, although I don't know all the details. Friend of a friend got a terminal diagnosis and married his long-time girlfriend right before he died. She had to prove that they had been together for ten years before SS allowed her to receive his benefits. IIRC, she had lots of pictures, which is what finally convinced them.

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7988
  • Location: United States
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #17 on: February 03, 2015, 02:48:05 PM »

As a white, English-speaking immigrant, USCIS pretty much just stamped my papers. My interviews consisted of them politely asking me how I liked living in the States. My husband only came to one interview, and he was asked a couple of questions about his job and tax returns - that's it.

I think I was racially profiled. Although it's equally possible that I was economically profiled.

"I see that you're a middle-class white person. Welcome to the USA!"

You're lucky. One of the people I was thinking of was Canadian... She said she thought the official ceremony was disingenuous, with all the flag waving and acting happy, when the same people were treating her as if she were a miserable human being throughout the process.  (She had lived happily in the US for 25 years before getting citizenship, so she was pretty shocked by the process.)

electriceagle

  • Bristles
  • ***
  • Posts: 460
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #18 on: February 03, 2015, 05:49:05 PM »
Some good points.  Would most of these issues be avoided with a pre-nup?

Two young folks in college barely scraping by aren't going to be making a lot.  So I don't see worries about needing to halve whatever you earn during the marriage as being a problem.
If one of the two develops medical issues that seems like a good time for an early divorce.
Spousal support after graduation because one party makes more is a worry.  Like I said I have no divorce experience.

I titled the post 'sham' marriage so it would be very clear what the thought was.  But as I follow this thought experiment more I don't see true fraud.  Two people legally married are legally married.  The inner workings of a marriage are a private matter.  Can someone explain how this is breaking the law?

People get married for all sorts of foolish reasons: wild weekend in Vegas, in lust for a month, too drunk to remember, really wanted pictures in a wedding dress, etc. I can't see how a marriage for any bad reason could be considered illegitimate unless the person doing it wrote the whole plan down and posted it on the internet. (Assuming that immigration isn't involved.)

Cassie

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 5440
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #19 on: February 03, 2015, 05:55:29 PM »
My son met a woman from Europe & they dated long distance with many trips for 3 years. She is white & they both were pretty much treated poorly.  We had to sign papers that we would support her if he was unable too.  He had saved all the pics & airline plane tickets to show that it was a real marriage.  They had to know everything about one another.

mginwa

  • 5 O'Clock Shadow
  • *
  • Posts: 24
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #20 on: February 03, 2015, 06:09:54 PM »
I believe the technical term here is "marriage of convenience."

Speaking only to the student aid side of things, I think it's ridiculous that college students are financially tied to parents who aren't supporting them in college, either because the parents are unable or unwilling to do so. Unfortunately, marriage is one of the only ways to break that arbitrary tie. So if two such students decide to marry each other, aren't they declaring their independence from their parents and choosing to team up and support each other? Isn't that, you know, marriage?

There's a lot of ways to be in a marriage, and a lot of reasons people decide to get married. So I guess the real question is, are married students really in a "sham" for having an unconventional union? What if they are best friends? What if they are in a romantic relationship with each other?

Does it matter? If everyone did it, and if as a result, no one's ability to go to college would be tied to their parents' ability to pay, that might actually be really great for society long-term (certainly there would a short term giant mess to address, I'm thinking theoretically.)

Cpa Cat

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1564
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #21 on: February 03, 2015, 06:24:06 PM »

As a white, English-speaking immigrant, USCIS pretty much just stamped my papers. My interviews consisted of them politely asking me how I liked living in the States. My husband only came to one interview, and he was asked a couple of questions about his job and tax returns - that's it.

I think I was racially profiled. Although it's equally possible that I was economically profiled.

"I see that you're a middle-class white person. Welcome to the USA!"

You're lucky. One of the people I was thinking of was Canadian... She said she thought the official ceremony was disingenuous, with all the flag waving and acting happy, when the same people were treating her as if she were a miserable human being throughout the process.  (She had lived happily in the US for 25 years before getting citizenship, so she was pretty shocked by the process.)

I'm going to go with economically profiled then. No one other than my husband had to promise to support me.

frugaldrummer

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 629
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #22 on: February 03, 2015, 06:45:44 PM »
Quote
Quote from: frugaldrummer on Today at 01:51:06 PM

    I've wondered about this from the reverse end - I've never heard of it, but it seems to me, older people might want to marry just for the social security benefits?
    I'm picturing someone who was a low earner in their lifetime, and would have earned just the minimum of social security benefits, marrying someone who was a high wage earner, just to collect the 50% spousal social security?

There's a catch here, although I don't know all the details. Friend of a friend got a terminal diagnosis and married his long-time girlfriend right before he died. She had to prove that they had been together for ten years before SS allowed her to receive his benefits. IIRC, she had lots of pictures, which is what finally convinced them

There's no rule that you have to be married for any particular length of time to collect widow's benefits, just so long as they were married at the time he died. ( If they were DIVORCED, she would have to prove they were married for ten years (you can't collect based on your ex-spouse's earnings unless the marriage lasted 10 years or longer).  I'm guessing they suspected fraud since the marriage occurred SO close to his death, so her proving that they had been in a real relationship would be important - but she would not necessarily have to prove it had been ten years in that circumstance.

I'm kind of interested in the question because my boyfriend does not have a lengthy social security employment history.  He's younger than me, but once we're both retirement age, if we married he could probably get more as a spousal benefit from my earnings record than he could get on his own.  On the other hand, I MIGHT get more claiming the spousal benefit on my ex-husband's earnings than on my own record.  So theoretically, I might do best if I remain single until after age 66, start collecting spousal benefits on my ex-husband's earnings (which would mean getting 50% of the maximum SS benefit, as he was a high earner), then marry my boyfriend so he could collect 50% based on MY earnings.  (This will probably all be moot as I think by then I will have earned enough to qualify for a bigger benefit on my own instead of the spousal benefit on my ex).

SomedayStache

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 760
  • Live Long and Prosper
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #23 on: February 04, 2015, 07:19:35 AM »
This got derailed a bit from my initial question Ė though the points about immigration and social security are interesting.
I guess I need to learn more about divorce and this 50/50 thing.  Having your marriage of convenience spouse rack up credit card debt and then shaft you with it could easily negate a couple grand of Pell Grants.

I know that quite a few parents do support their children through college.  I hope I can do that for my 3 kiddos.  But for those young college students trying to make it on their own WITHOUT parental support having to claim your parentís income on the FAFSA is like another kick to the head when you are already down. 

On a similar note even years later Iím still bitter that my husband and I were too young to claim the Earned Income Credit during those difficult college years.   

Overseas Stache

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 130
  • Age: 34
  • Location: Democratic Republic of Congo
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #24 on: February 04, 2015, 07:43:09 AM »

As a white, English-speaking immigrant, USCIS pretty much just stamped my papers. My interviews consisted of them politely asking me how I liked living in the States. My husband only came to one interview, and he was asked a couple of questions about his job and tax returns - that's it.

I think I was racially profiled. Although it's equally possible that I was economically profiled.

"I see that you're a middle-class white person. Welcome to the USA!"

You're lucky. One of the people I was thinking of was Canadian... She said she thought the official ceremony was disingenuous, with all the flag waving and acting happy, when the same people were treating her as if she were a miserable human being throughout the process.  (She had lived happily in the US for 25 years before getting citizenship, so she was pretty shocked by the process.)


I don't think the process was that bad. My wife is from Argentina, not white, not middle class, just two broke right out of college students when we got married. The paperwork was a little bit of a long unnecessary process but it wasn't hard or demeaning in any way. The interview was a real breeze we went in together showed our wedding pictures talked about how met, no hard questions or separate room treatment.

I did ask if they ever caught people trying to fake it and she said yes all the time and it usually is easy to spot, and if they suspect anything then they would do different type of interview. She said the those type of people normally use a lawyer and that the lawyers don't really help and often don't complete paperwork correctly.

So really I think that it is more likely that they do circumstantial profiling, not racial or economic profiling. So if you dated for a while, had a nice expensive wedding with all your family members they probably aren't going to look to much into you. Date someone for a month then have a court house wedding, you will probably get a closer look.

I'm a red panda

  • Walrus Stache
  • *******
  • Posts: 7988
  • Location: United States
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #25 on: February 04, 2015, 07:56:44 AM »
Well it's good to know that not everyone is treated like that.

Like I said- she was in the country for 25 years.  The couple had been married that long, had 2 children who were both already US citizens by their father (one was in college, the other high school).  They both had excellent, long term jobs.

It was bizarre.  Maybe it is because she isn't the typical immigrant for the area?

Cpa Cat

  • Handlebar Stache
  • *****
  • Posts: 1564
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #26 on: February 04, 2015, 08:36:00 AM »
So really I think that it is more likely that they do circumstantial profiling, not racial or economic profiling. So if you dated for a while, had a nice expensive wedding with all your family members they probably aren't going to look to much into you. Date someone for a month then have a court house wedding, you will probably get a closer look.

I had dated my husband for 6 months... and had essentially a courthouse wedding. And I had lawyer (he was a hilariously filthy man with an offputting personality).

But honestly... sometimes positions like that attract jerks. It's like customs agents - 99 out of 100 times, they stamp your card and let you through. But 1 out of 100 is a real jerk who seems to get kicks off being "powerful."

I think that Iowajes' friend just pulled a big ole jerk.

Professor Ecks

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 103
  • Age: 43
  • Location: Kansas City
    • My Journal
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #27 on: February 04, 2015, 01:37:06 PM »
Quote
There's no rule that you have to be married for any particular length of time to collect widow's benefits, just so long as they were married at the time he died.

I know this isn't the original focus of this thread, but I just wanted to clear this Social Security widow's benefit thing up for anyone reading. There actually IS a rule regarding the length of marriage to receive widow's benefits, and that is "The claimant was married to the NH for not less than 9 months immediately prior to the day in which the NH died, unless one of the exceptions to the 9-month marriage requirement is met." "NH" means "Number Holder," which is the person the SSN you are filing the claim on belongs to.

Those previously mentioned exceptions are:

a. The worker's death was accidental

b. The worker's death occurred in the line of duty while he/she was a member of a uniformed service, serving on active duty

c. The claimant had the necessary relationship to the worker for at least 9 months as a result of a previous marriage. (In other words, if the two were married for at least 9 months and that marriage ended in divorce, then they later remarried, but then one of them dies before nine months into the remarriage, the first marriage will meet the nine-month requirement).



myrax

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 104
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #28 on: February 04, 2015, 06:36:36 PM »
You could also plan ahead and become an emancipated minor before you are 18. The one person I know who did this said it was super easy, as everyone assumed that a minor seeking emancipation must be going through hell at home. She was on good terms with her parents and just didn't have to put them on her FAFSA when she was in college.

DaMa

  • Stubble
  • **
  • Posts: 162
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #29 on: February 04, 2015, 07:09:14 PM »
I actually looked into this when my daughter was graduating from high school.  I have a friend with a son same age.  Back then you couldn't keep a married person on your health insurance.  That's not the case anymore with the ACA.  Even married children can stay on a parent's policy until age 26.

SaintM

  • Guest
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #30 on: February 04, 2015, 07:49:50 PM »
maybe going into the miliary is a better option, as that also makes you independent on the FAFSA.

Or go into the military and get your degree (and maybe a second for a child or spouse) for free.  You can the financial aid office to take the FAFSA and shove it.

NICE!

  • Pencil Stache
  • ****
  • Posts: 687
  • Location: Africa
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #31 on: February 05, 2015, 03:07:35 AM »
This seems like a very short-sighted idea. Even a pre-nup is not ironclad. A spouse can come pretty close to ruining your life, and if not they certainly can ruin you financially. I wouldn't marry someone I didn't know extremely well and with whom I didn't share many mutual interests. The way I see it, for the vast majority of the population, you need love, closely-aligned goals/interests in many areas (spiritually, sexually, financially), trust, and very good knowledge of how the other person ticks. For a small part of the population, namely those who are very wealthy, marriage as a facade for a business relationship (think about the Clintons or Kerrys) can work. Or, a wealthy middle-aged or older person could have a marriage with a younger, beautiful person on a transactional basis.

I do not think that two very young adults could be mature enough to have a business relationship that carries all of the legal weight of marriage. Marriage is a constant effort for me, and I'm in the non-business camp (love, closely-aligned goals/interests, trust, knowledge). I can't imagine handling a business relationship right now. Maybe in the future if I'm divorced and FI, I could see it.

scrubbyfish

  • Guest
Re: Sham marriage for independent student status on the FAFSA?
« Reply #32 on: February 05, 2015, 09:35:53 AM »
What an interesting matter! I'm perpetually concerned with the financial-legal ramifications of marriage, how one must be prepared to live with all sorts of unknowables far in advance.

So, on the one hand, the government doesn't allow people to marry only for love, and have only a romantic relationship, but in many regions requires that it become a legal/financial contract as well. On the other hand, as this thread points out, the government also requires the reverse: that people are marrying not only for legal/financial reasons but also for love (or power, control, extended social arrangement, etc).

Geez. Why the crap does it require that two rather dramatically unrelated things apply in one relationship? Those who have found romance with people they are entirely comfortable entering a lifelong legal-financial contract with, where that also works out well, are tremendously lucky, but heaps of people find only one element or the other.

Why wouldn't the government want people marrying "only" for financial/legal reasons?? If this is the system's primary or easiest mode for moving forward in one's life, why in heaven's name does it need people to be lusting after each other or gazing gaga into each other's eyes, too?? And yes, since even "living apart together" marriages are recognized and taxed as marriages, why can't people immigrating do this, too? Argh.