Pros and Cons of Marrying an Inmate: What You Need to Know

Last Updated on May 7, 2023 by Lily Connel

Marrying an inmate may lead to a sense of loyalty and shared experiences between partners, but it also has potential downsides. One major disadvantage is the strain of maintaining a relationship while one partner is incarcerated, which can lead to emotional and financial difficulties.

What is an Inmate?

An inmate is a person who is confined to a prison or jail, usually as a result of being convicted of a crime. Inmates are typically under the custody and control of the correctional facility where they are housed and may be subject to various rules, regulations, and restrictions on their activities and movements. They may be serving sentences of varying lengths, depending on the severity of their offense and the jurisdiction in which they were convicted. Inmates may have limited access to communication with the outside world and may have restricted opportunities for education, employment, or other activities while they are incarcerated.

Pros of Marrying an Inmate

Marrying an inmate can be a complex and challenging decision, but there are some potential advantages that should be considered. Here are some of the pros of marrying an inmate:

  • Loyalty: One potential benefit of marrying an inmate is the sense of loyalty that can develop between partners. When one partner is incarcerated, they may rely heavily on the emotional and practical support of their spouse. This can create a deep bond of trust and loyalty, as the partners work together to navigate the challenges of life behind bars.
  • Shared Experiences: The shared experiences of navigating the criminal justice system and incarceration can also create a strong bond between partners. In many cases, the spouse of an inmate will be intimately involved in the legal process, attending court hearings and working with lawyers to support their partner’s case. This can create a sense of solidarity and teamwork that can strengthen the relationship.
  • Legal Benefits: In some cases, marrying an inmate can lead to legal benefits such as reduced sentences, conjugal visits, and increased visitation rights. In some jurisdictions, prisoners who are married may be eligible for parole or other forms of early release. This can be a significant advantage for couples who want to be reunited as soon as possible.
  • Emotional Support: Marrying an inmate can also provide emotional support for both partners. For the inmate, having a spouse to talk to and share their feelings with can be an important source of comfort and encouragement. For the non-incarcerated spouse, supporting their partner through a difficult time can be deeply fulfilling and rewarding.
  • Sense of Purpose: Many people who choose to marry an inmate do so because they feel a sense of purpose in supporting their partner through a difficult time. This can be a meaningful way to give back to someone who has made mistakes and is paying the price for them. It can also be a way to help the inmate reintegrate into society once they are released, by providing them with a stable home and supportive partner.

Cons of Marrying an Inmate

Marrying an inmate is a decision that comes with significant challenges and potential drawbacks. Here are some of the cons of marrying an inmate:

  • The strain on the Relationship: Maintaining a relationship with an incarcerated partner can be extremely challenging. Visiting hours may be limited, phone calls may be expensive, and communication may be restricted. This can put a significant strain on the relationship and may lead to feelings of frustration, loneliness, and resentment. Over time, the distance between partners can grow, making it more difficult to maintain the emotional connection that brought them together in the first place.
  • Financial Burden: Marrying an inmate can also be a financial burden, particularly if the non-incarcerated spouse is the sole breadwinner. In addition to the costs of travel and communication, there may be legal fees and other expenses associated with supporting the inmate’s case. If the inmate is unable to work while incarcerated, the financial burden may be even greater. This can create stress and anxiety and may limit the non-incarcerated spouse’s ability to pursue their own goals and aspirations.
  • Stigma: There can also be a social and cultural stigma associated with being married to an inmate. Some people may view the non-incarcerated spouse as an enabler or codependent or may assume that they are also involved in criminal activity. This can be isolating and difficult to deal with and may limit the non-incarcerated spouse’s social and professional opportunities.
  • No Guarantee of Release: Finally, it’s important to remember that marrying an inmate does not guarantee that they will be released from prison. Even if the inmate is eligible for parole or early release, there is no guarantee that they will be granted it. This can create uncertainty and anxiety for both partners and may lead to a long-term separation. If the inmate is serving a lengthy sentence, the non-incarcerated spouse may be forced to put their life on hold indefinitely, waiting for the day when their partner will be released.
  • Emotional Toll: Marrying an inmate can also take a significant emotional toll on both partners. The non-incarcerated spouse may feel guilty or responsible for their partner’s situation and may struggle with feelings of helplessness and frustration. The inmate may struggle with feelings of shame, guilt, and isolation, as well as the challenges of adapting to life in prison. Over time, these emotional pressures can lead to stress, anxiety, and depression, making it even more difficult to maintain a healthy and fulfilling relationship.

Legal Considerations for Marrying an Inmate

If you are considering marrying an inmate, it’s important to understand the legal considerations involved. Here are some key points to keep in mind:

  • Marriage Laws: Before getting married, you’ll need to familiarize yourself with the marriage laws in your state or country. In some places, there may be restrictions on who can marry an inmate, such as requirements for age, citizenship, or legal status. You may also need to obtain special permission from the prison or correctional facility where your partner is being held.
  • Marriage License: You’ll need to obtain a marriage license before getting married. This typically involves filling out a form and paying a fee. Depending on where you live, there may be additional requirements, such as a waiting period or a blood test.
  • Wedding Ceremony: In most cases, you’ll be able to have a wedding ceremony inside the correctional facility where your partner is being held. However, there may be restrictions on the type of ceremony you can have, the number of guests you can invite, or the items you can bring into the facility. You’ll need to work closely with the prison staff to plan the ceremony and ensure that everything goes smoothly.
  • Property Rights: In some cases, marrying an inmate can affect your property rights. For example, if you and your partner own property together, you may need to transfer ownership or make other legal arrangements to protect your interests. It’s a good idea to consult with a lawyer to ensure that your property rights are fully protected.
  • Divorce: If you decide to divorce your incarcerated partner, the process can be more complicated than a typical divorce. You may need to obtain special permission from the prison or correctional facility to serve your partner with divorce papers, and you may need to make special arrangements for child custody and support if you have children together.
  • Legal Assistance: Throughout the marriage process and beyond, it’s a good idea to seek legal assistance. A lawyer who specializes in family law can help you navigate the legal complexities of marrying an inmate, as well as any issues that may arise during your marriage or divorce.