Questions concerning marital status normally appear on polls, censuses and official forms such as student financial aid forms, medical forms, bank forms, social security forms, insurance forms and tax forms. Historically, job interviews and credit card applications questioned women about marital status but as of 2015, this is deemed discriminatory.
Bank, social security, and student aid forms contain questions about marital status for legal and financial reasons. Marital status is medically relevant because a spouse will have to make medical decisions if a person is unable to make decisions in an emergency.
Even if a form doesn't specifically ask whether the person is married, females often have to choose between "Mrs.", "Ms." and "Miss" on any form where gender is specified. This automatically categorizes women by marital status. "Ms." is a title appropriate for any woman, while "Mrs." is used for a married or divorced woman and "Miss" is used for an unmarried woman. For men, "Mr." does not specify marital status, and it is often the only option unless a specialist honorific such as "Dr." is appropriate.
Some unmarried people object to describing themselves as "single" and prefer to choose other options if possible, such as "divorced", "widowed", "cohabiting", "civil union", "domestic partnership" or "unmarried partners". In some cases, knowing that someone is divorced, widowed or in a relationship is more useful than only knowing whether they are married or single.