This blog will discuss another situation in which the law is not always clear-cut, and does not offer the same protections to all: Same-sex couples in a long-term, committed relationship.
Although I am well aware that Texas law does not recognize same-sex marriage, for the sake of clarity I will use the term “marital relationship” to apply to a same-sex couple committed to each other, and behaving “as if” they are legally married.
Some very interesting law school exam questions and bar exam questions are surely written about the “conflicts of laws” questions. Consider this, same-sex couples are legally able to be married in some states, have domestic partner status in others, and have no legal relationship to each other in other states. Federal law allows same-sex couples who have been legally married in jurisdictions that recognize same-sex marriage to file “married”.
Since all jurisdictions are not “on the same page”, there have been plenty of confusing situations. For instance, how does a couple that has been legally married get a divorce if they live in a state that does not permit same-sex divorce? This, and other questions are going through the court systems as I write. We’ll just have to wait and see what 2014 brings.
But, back to the here and now and the things we can do something about. Just like the heterosexual couples in last week’s blog, same-sex couples in Texas need to be aware of their legal options and the things that can happen.
- The couple is purchasing property together, or co-owns property or accounts;
- The couple is separating and realize that they don’t know how to legally split their property;
- One person is ill and unable to speak for him/herself and the other partner needs to have legal authority to do so;
- One person dies and the surviving partner needs to have legal title to joint assets or needs to be able to inherit them (especially if challenged by others).
- Anytime children are involved. (adoption, visitation, support, authority to seek medical care, authority to attend school activities or be an emergency contact, seeking of parental rights for one of the partners, pre-birth arrangements such as sperm donor contracts or gestational agreements).
– Laura Kalish