Military Contract Marriage: Understanding the Pros and Cons

April 19, 2023
Military Contract Marriage: Understanding the Pros and Cons

Military contract marriage is becoming increasingly popular among service members who want to secure the benefits of marriage while still serving in the military. While some may see this type of marriage as a convenience or an easy way to gain certain benefits, it’s important to understand the pros and cons before making the decision to enter into one.

What is a Contract Marriage?

A military contract marriage is a legally binding marriage between two individuals, one of whom is a member of the military. It is also known as a proxy marriage or a double proxy marriage. In this type of marriage, one or both parties may be absent during the ceremony, and a designated proxy stands in their place.

Read more about these benefits in our article on why people in the military get married so young.

Since it’s a sweet deal for both soldier and civilian, you can see why it happens. It’s also illegal.

A contract marriage is one of those things we assume doesn’t happen anymore when in fact, it’s more of an “open secret”. We know it goes on but everyone just turns a blind eye. Plus, how are you supposed to go up to someone and accuse them that their marriage is fake anyway?

The Pros of Military Contract Marriage

Financial Benefits

One of the most significant benefits of military contract marriage is the financial benefits that come with it. Service members who are married receive a Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) to help cover the cost of housing. This allowance is based on the service member’s rank, location, and whether they have dependents.

Legal Benefits

Married service members also enjoy certain legal benefits, such as the right to make medical decisions for their spouse, inheritance rights, and the ability to access military legal assistance.

Housing Benefits

In addition to the BAH, military contract marriages may also provide access to on-base housing, which can be more affordable than living off-base.

Healthcare Benefits

Married service members are also eligible for healthcare benefits through the military healthcare system, TRICARE.

Tax Benefits

Married service members can also take advantage of certain tax benefits, such as filing jointly and potentially lowering their tax burden.

The Cons of Military Contract Marriage

Long Separations

One of the biggest challenges of military contract marriage is the long separations that come with military life. Service members may be deployed for months or even years at a time, leaving their spouse behind.

Stressful Lifestyle

The military lifestyle can be stressful, and it can take a toll on both the service member and their spouse. Frequent moves, long hours, and the risk of deployment can create a high level of stress.

Living on Base

While on-base housing can be more affordable, it can also be restrictive. Service members and their families may have to abide by certain rules and regulations, and there may be limited privacy and space.

Limited Career Opportunities

Military spouses may find it difficult to pursue their own careers due to frequent moves and limited job opportunities in certain locations.

It’s Illegal

Contract marriages, where people get married for practical reasons instead of love, can have serious consequences. These marriages are usually a bad idea because:

  • They are illegal and you could get in trouble if someone finds out.
  • You might end up in a loveless marriage that doesn’t make either partner happy.
  • If you meet someone you really like, it can be messy because you’re already married.
  • Your spouse might turn you in if they decide they’re not getting what they want out of the deal.
  • You have to keep any romantic relationships secret because adultery is against military rules.

The Reality

Military contract marriage can provide many benefits for service members and their spouses, but it also comes with unique challenges. Before entering into a military contract marriage, it’s important to weigh the pros and cons and understand the eligibility requirements and legal considerations. With realistic expectations, open communication, and a willingness to seek support, a military contract marriage can be a successful and fulfilling option for those in the military.

Long story short, contract marriage in the military always has been and probably always will be a thing. Hopefully the fact that people are getting married later than ever before in general, means that even contract marriages are happening less frequently.

Regardless, a contract marriage is not a good idea, even if it seems that way in the moment. Wait until you actually find a partner that’s right for you and reap the benefits when the time comes.

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