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|This article possibly contains original research. (October 2012)|
A marriage of convenience (plural marriages of convenience) is a marriage contracted for reasons other than the reasons of relationship, family, or love. Instead, such a marriage is orchestrated for personal gain or some other sort of strategic purpose, such as political marriage. In the cases when it represents a fraud, it is called sham marriage.
Marriages of convenience are often contracted to exploit legal loopholes of various sorts.
The term "marriage of convenience", or sometimes known as a sham marriage, has also come into popular use at the University of Adelaide and other Australian Universities as a sort of catch-cry against the Australian Government's Youth Allowance laws. On 31 March 2010 two students were publicly and legally married on the University's lawn in a so-called "marriage of convenience" so that they could both receive full Youth Allowance.
Another common reason for marriages of convenience is to hide one partner's homosexuality in cases where being openly gay is punishable or potentially detrimental. A sham marriage of this type, known as the lavender marriage, may thus create the appearance of heterosexuality. Such marriages may have one heterosexual and one gay partner, or two gay partners: a lesbian and a gay man married to each other. In the case where a gay man marries a woman, the woman is said to be his "beard".
The phrase "marriage of convenience" has also been generalized to mean any partnership between groups or individuals for their mutual (and sometimes illegitimate) benefit, or between groups or individuals otherwise unsuited to working together. An example would be a "National Unity Government", as existed in Israel during much of the 1980s or in Second World War Great Britain. More specifically, cohabitation refers to a political situation which can occur in countries with a semi-presidential system (especially France), where the president and the prime minister belong to opposed political camps.
Some marriages in medieval times were marriages of convenience, such as those of Agnes of Courtenay, or that of her daughter Sibylla, and that of Jeanne d'Albret, among many other examples. Also called a marriage of state.
The Immigration Marriage Fraud Amendments Act of 1986 amended § 1325 by adding § 1325(c), which provides a penalty of five years imprisonment and a $250,000 fine for any "individual who knowingly enters into a marriage for the purpose of evading any provision of the immigration laws."
"The maximum sentences for the above charges are:
- Conspiracy: 5 Years in Prison and a $250,000 fine
- Mail Fraud: 20 Years in Prison and a $250,000 fine
- Wire Fraud 20 Years in Prison and a $250,000 fine
- False Statement in Immigration Matter: 10 Years in Prison and a $250,000 fine"
Media related to Marriage of convenience at Wikimedia Commons