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When Government gets involved in marriage, it takes the power away from the citizen to determine their own conditions in marriage.
It is argued that Government need to set the rules for marriage, because otherwise then there will be no standard. But in the absence of the government making the marriage rules, the organisation that marries the individual, such as a church will make the rules, or allow the partners to do so.

Problems with Government involvement in marriage.

Some examples of problems this causes
  • Not allowing citizens to marry (gays, interracial marriage)
  • On marriage breakdown, the assets get split in an arbitrary way different from any sense of fairness or justice.
  • It creates the wrong incentives

Lets take the classical divorce case.
From the mans side
The man has a more money than the woman he married. After 3 years it becomes apparent that the relationship is not going to work. The man is put in the situation where either he divorces her and loses a lot of money. Or he stays with her in an unhappy marriage. Neither of these are good for his psyche.

From the womans side
The couple have been married 4 years, and the woman feels that the relationship has hit a rut. She thinks about breaking up, and realises there will be a financial reward for doing so. Instead of trying to rejuvenate the marriage she leaves with a cash bonus.

History of Marriage

Early ideas of marriage from the Anglo-Saxon period mainly treated marriage as a way of building relationships an strategic alliances.
1140: Marriage formalised by Gratian. Verbal consent was required.
1753: Marriage Act 1753 - Required a formal ceremony for marriage.
1670: Parliament passed an act allowing John Manners, Lord Roos, to divorce his wife, Lady Anne Pierpon
1836: Non-religious civil marriages allowed
1858: Legal process for divorce established -cruelty, desertion, bigamy, incest, sodomy or bestiality needs to be proved.
1969: Divorce Reform Act of 1969. Marital breakdown could be given as a reason
2005: Civil partnerships

Why do fathers walk their daughters down the aisle?
Fathers traditionally walked their daughters down the aisle as a symbolic gesture stemming from the idea that daughters were considered the property of their fathers.

Daughters were exchanged for a dowry or bride price, after which they became the property and financial responsibility of their husband.

In England, the idea that women were property began to be eroded in the 14th Century following a series of laws introduced by King Richard II establishing both men and women's individual employment rights.

The Married Women's Property Act 1882 formally ended the concept by enshrining in law married women's ability to independently own and control property in the UK.