Difference between unmarried couple and marriage

When two people decide to unite their lives, they can choose between various options to consummate the fact of starting a life project together, a family or union as a couple. Among those options are the union as a de facto couple and marriage, which have similarities and differences in attention to the legal, social and religious nature.

In this article we are going to define both terms to present the differences that originate by virtue of their characteristics, so that readers can understand the implications of each one of them.

unmarried couple

The de facto couple is the union that consists of the stable coexistence between two people with common interests and goals. Its main characteristic is the lack of legal requirements to form and dilute it, that is, it can be formed with the simple voluntary union of people under the same roof and it can be dissolved in the same way.

Currently, in almost all the world, the de facto couple has the same duties and obligations as a marriage in legal matters. This is due to the legal recognition of this type of union which lacked legality, therefore, it brought unfavorable consequences for one of the two spouses in case of rupture.

The de facto couple can be dissolved voluntarily by one or both parties with the simple separation and breakup, without having to go through a legal process beyond the implications regarding acquired assets and descendants. In aspects such as a widow’s pension and inheritance rights, the de facto couple must demonstrate the existence of the same before the corresponding instances in order to access this type of benefits. The de facto couple can dissolve and unite voluntarily without major legal implications when both parties so agree.


It can be said that marriage is the stable union between two people and that its main characteristic is the legal nature through the signing of a document (marriage certificate) that certifies before the law that both people decided to unite their lives to start a new family. Marriage is usually duly defined in civil codes and results in the change of marital status of the person who contracts it from single to married.

It should be noted that there are two types of marriage:

  • Civil marriage, which is legal in nature and establishes the acquisition of legal and patrimonial duties and obligations.
  • The religious marriage, which legitimizes the union before God and although it is not typified in the civil code, has certain requirements that are generally due to the fulfillment of criteria or norms established by the religion that is practiced.

The dissolution of marriage is carried out through divorce, which is permanent and in the event that the couple, once divorced, wishes to rejoin, they must marry again.

In view of the above, it can be seen that the differences between common-law couples and marriages are:

  • The de facto couple is the voluntary union of two people without prior legal requirements, while marriage is the voluntary union of two people with prior legal requirements (age, marital status).
  • The de facto couple can be dissolved and consummated again as many times as desired without major legal implications, while the marriage is only dissolved through divorce and to rejoin the couple they must marry again, otherwise they will only be a de facto couple.

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