Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Happy Endings for All

A victory for same sex couples came at the end of June when the Supreme Court struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act. One major portion of this Act prevented gay and lesbian couples, who were legally married in their home state, from receiving federal recognition for the purpose of receiving federal benefits. The repeal of Section 3 of the Act now affords same sex couples the same federal benefits granted to heterosexual couples. Those benefits include social security benefits for widows/widowers, joint income tax filing, tax deductions for children and immigration protections for binational couples.
However, with the right to marry also comes the right to divorce. Divorcing still remains a complicated matter. The problem lies in the laws of each individual state. If a couple, who married in a state that legally recognizes same sex marriage, is trying to divorce in a state that does not recognize same sex marriage, there is no definite answer yet as to whether the domicile state (the state where the couple resides) will still grant the couple a legal divorce. However, the repeal does provide them a pathway to challenge the state's laws. This all might sound very confusing and it is.  The good news is that the federal government is finally taking a step in the right direction.
So, why is this relevant to my blog: Well even as a same sex couple you can still attempt a divorce through a mediation. A family mediator can hash out all of the couple's assets and liabilities and even set up a timesharing schedule for any children. (Any Parenting Plan can be formally filed with the court.) Even if an agreement can't be legally recognized by the court system, it still is a contractual document that the couple can rely on.

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