As a rough rule, marriage has more legal ramifications than other types of bonds between consenting adults.
Since the founding of the country, marriage between whites and non-whites was seen as immoral and unnatural. Supreme Court struck down remaining interracial marriage laws nationwide, in the case Loving v. Expectations of a marriage partner have changed over time. For instance, the percentage of single mothers with children has risen about 30%.
In 1948, the California Supreme Court became the first state high court to declare a ban on interracial marriage unconstitutional. Employment of mothers with young children (6 and under) has also risen about 30%.
While about 96% of residents in their 70s and 80s were married at least once, many were widowed due to the death of their spouses.
Marriage in the United States is a legal, social, and religious institution.
The legal recognition of marriage is regulated by individual states, each of which sets an "age of majority" at which individuals are free to enter into marriage solely on their own consent, as well as in what ages minors are able to marry with parental and/or judicial consent.
Marriage laws have changed considerably during United States history, including the removal of bans on interracial marriage and same-sex marriage.
In 2009, there were 2,077,000 marriages, according to the Census bureau.
Marriages can be terminated by annulment, divorce or death of a spouse.
Divorce (known as dissolution of marriage in some states) laws vary by state, and address issues such as how the two spouses divide their property, how children will be cared for, and support obligations of one spouse toward the other.
In the last 50 years, divorce has become more prevalent.
In 2005, it was estimated that 20% of marriages would end in divorce within five years.