The Latest News Same Sex Marriages

Same sex marriages: Many Issues to Consider before Tying the Knot

Posted On: May 12, 2015

 Same sex couples face many of the same challenges as
mixed-gender couples when planning for marriage.

Same sex marriages are recognized by Federal law and in many states, including New York, but there are still issues to think about before heading to the alter.

Same sex couples face many of the same challenges as mixed-gender couples when planning for marriage. As laws continue to change and more and more same sex couples decide to legally tie the knot, there are several things they must consider. This is especially true for future spouses established in their careers and financial lives. Like any couple planning to marry, the more assets and possessions you bring to the marriage the more you have at risk. Before taking the marital plunge, discuss with your partner the following:

Same sex marriages: Finances
Most experts agree it is important for same-sex couples to truly take initiative when it comes to financial matters. This is especially the case if they will live in a state that does not yet recognize same-sex marriage. A few of the most important financial questions to ask include:

  • What is our current financial situation and what are our mutual financial goals? Make sure you each understand one another’s debt situation, as well as your general attitudes toward money.
  • What are our retirement plans and what can be done to prepare for retirement? At the moment, social security benefits are available only in states where same-sex marriage is legally recognized, so you should create an alternate plan for income if there is a risk you will not qualify to receive benefits under your spouse. Alternative retirement savings is a smart decision regardless of your state’s specific laws, but even more so when there are no guarantees. Laws are likely to change, but for now it is best to prepare for the worst case scenario.
  • Is marriage the best practical decision? Marriage changes how taxes are filed and might not be the smartest financial option depending on your circumstances. Speak with a tax attorney about how marriage will change your tax situation. Marriage could cause ineligibility for certain benefits, such as financial aid for education.

A prenuptial agreement can be a good tool for avoiding conflicts should your marriage end. Consider the same questions same-sex couples consider when determining if a pre-nup is right for you:

  • Do either of you own substantial property?
  • Is there a significant wealth discrepancy between you and your partner?
  • Do you or your partner own a business?
  • Do you or your partner have children from a previous marriage?

Same sex marriages: Estate Planning
Some of the issues addressed in a pre-nuptial agreement could also be addressed in a will. It is important to create a clear legal plan for your estate that will govern what happens to your assets once you die. You should create a will that states your intentions, regardless how much your estate is worth. Planning your estate also gives you an opportunity to assign power of attorney to your partner and share information about medical directives. Also make sure you have listed the correct beneficiaries for your retirement accounts and life insurance policies.

Same sex marriages: Children
If you or your partner has children from a previous relationship, you need to know who will be responsible for the children if something happens to either of you. Some choose to legally adopt their partner’s children to eliminate any questions. If your state does not allow co-parent adoption, consider co-guardianship or co-parenting arrangements.

Same sex marriages: Practical Matters
Whether or not same-sex marriage is legal in your state has little bearing if you are otherwise not eligible to legally marry. In order to marry, you must meet certain age, family relations, and mental capacity criteria. Laws vary from state to state, but in general, you must be of sound mind, legally an adult or emancipated from parents or have parent permission, and not be closely related to your spouse. Individuals must also end previous marriages before they can enter into a new one.

Choosing to marry your partner is a big decision and should not be taken lightly. As tempting as it is to be swept up in romance and the new opportunities unfolding throughout the country, it is important to take smart, well-planned steps on your way to the alter.

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Same Sex Marriage – Soon to be the Law of the Land? But Issues still Exist

Posted On: February 25, 2015

Same sex marriage has been a frequent topic in the news recently. Statistics show views on the subject are changing. Pew Research reports that a very noticeable shift occurred around 2011, when more people polled in American supported rather than opposed same sex marriage for the first time in recent history. According to Wikipedia, In the United States, same-sex marriage is recognized by the federal government and has been legalized in 37 U.S. states, the District of Columbia, and 21 Native American tribal jurisdictions. More than 70% of the USA populations live in jurisdictions where same-sex couples can legally marry.

The opportunity for same sex couples to legally marry has been compared to the civil rights movement of the 1960’s. Many experts are predicting that within a short period of time, same sex marriage will be the law of the land throughout the entire United States. More and more judges are ruling that marriage is a fundamental right and soon, this right could be protected by federal law.

Advocates Moving Legal Approval Forward
The issue has recently received support from Theodor Olson, a former US solicitor general appointed under President George W. Bush, and Democrat activist David Boise. The pair’s goal is to advance the issue and argue that marriage discrimination is unconstitutional. They consider same sex marriage to be the defining civil rights issue of our current generation. Just recently in October 2014, the Supreme Court denied petitions to review several federal appeals cases that had ruled in favor of same sex couples in several states, including Utah. The decision resulted in the federal court ruling that same sex couples were constitutionally guaranteed a right to marriage.

Changes throughout the Country
Most recently on February 9, 2015, Alabama was in the spotlight concerning its same sex marriage laws. Same sex marriage had been banned by executive order in the state in 1996, which was later followed up by a law two years later. A state Constitutional amendment was approved by 81% of voters in the state in 2006. All of the bans were repealed in January 2015 by US District Judge Callie Granade. She ordered the state to recognize same sex marriages, placing a stay on her ruling until February 9 to allow the state to prepare. State Attorney General Luther Strange petitioned for an extension of the stay, but the Supreme Court declined to intervene. The incident allowed Alabama to become the 37th state to allow same sex marriage. State judges began issuing marriage licenses within hours of the decision and there were couples lined up outside of court houses throughout the state.

Future of Same Sex Marriage
Same sex marriages are still banned in Georgia, Kentucky, Michigan, Mississippi, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, and Tennessee, and bans are under review in Arkansas, Louisiana, Missouri, South Dakota, and Texas. The Supreme Court is preparing to hear additional cases on same sex marriage throughout the year, but most experts agree the trend will continue and it won’t be long until equal marriage rights are granted throughout the country.

Important Issues Still Exist
Although there are definite benefits and legal protections afforded by same sex marriage today, by no means, is same sex marriage afforded the total equalities of the existing protections for other marriages. Contrary to some thoughts, same sex marriage does not necessarily costs savings for same sex couples. It is important that you consult with an account to understand the dynamics of the impact of a same sex marriage because in actuality it could cost same sex couples more than they anticipated to be married. One example is with employee holding based upon health care deductions for health insurance could create a situation where as a result of the marriage, the person receiving the benefit could actually have to now pay back certain portions of benefits. In addition, many people have not contemplated what happens once couples decide to retire and possibly relocate. If you are in a state that recognizes same sex marriage, what happens if you decide to move to a state that does not recognize same sex marriage. If you are not in pay status for your retirement and social security benefits, this could impact whether the benefit afforded by legalized marriages flows to your partner in a state that does not recognize same, especially if you do not retire prior to moving there. In addition, it also creates questions and consequences with respect to children of a same sex marriage, whether they are born into the marriage after the marriage or adopted and whether a second parent adoption has been done. For states that do not recognize same sex marriage, if there is no second adoption, the non-named parent of the marriage may have no legal rights with respect to the children. These are just a few of the many questions that could arise from same sex marriages since it is not legalized and recognized nationwide. Sources: http://www.pewresearch.org/data-trend/domestic-issues/attitudes-on-gay-marriage/ http://www.pbs.org/newshour/rundown/supreme-court-refuses-stay-alabama-sex-marriage-ban/ http://thinkprogress.org/justice/2014/10/06/3576337/the-supreme-court-just-quietly-made-marriage-equality-the-law-of-the-land-in-many-states/ http://www.cnn.com/2013/05/28/us/same-sex-marriage-fast-facts/index.html

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