Because of the way marriage laws are currently structured, domestic partnerships or civil unions (the typical stand in for gay marriage) are not granted the same legal status as marriage. This means that the every day legal issues that married couples confront may apply differently or require a greater investment to ensure equal application to these other couples.

These are just some of the ways in which an attorney can help a couple anticipate challenges a domestic partner might face in the legal realm:

  • Premarital Agreement-- while you hope to never have to use them, these are even more important for domestic partners that married couples, because the federal laws, most notably Taxation, do not apply to domestic partnership divorces. This means that the one time division of assets will be subject to taxation at the time of partition, rather than at a later transfer or sale. Thus, a solid prenuptial agreement, which details the nature of division of assets is key to ensure a well thought through decision.
  • Will & Trust-- it's likely that your state's laws of intestacy (for those who die without a will) denote a line of inheritance for blood relatives, meaning that if a person dies without a will, their relatives may inherit their estate. While some states invoke spouses as those first in line, laws forbidding marriage as anything other than a man and a woman may make your relationship invalid for purposes of inheritance. A valid will can circumvent these intestacy laws, and ensure that your domestic partner is provided for.
  • Power of Attorney-- this all encompassing document can ensure that your spouse is able to make decisions on your behalf, should you become incapacitated for some reason.
  • Healthcare Directive-- this document allows your spouse to have the legal power to make medical decisions on your behalf. It is important because family dissent may become the most prevalent in these stressful times, and challenges to your partner's ability to make any decisions may be called into question.

Until marriage equality becomes a reality, find out today about how a Family Law Attorney can help you structure your Domestic Partnership or Civil Union.

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