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Some legal "glitches" on same-sex marriage ...

Along with a local attorney, I've been doing a lot of presentations on the tax and legal aspects of same-sex marriage. Here are some recent revelations which may be of interest to you here: 1. DIVORCE. If a heterosexual couple wants to get divorced, they can file in their home state, regardless of where their marriage took place. But what do you do if your state of residence doesn't recognize the marriage as valid? Answer: You generally have to file for divorce in the state where you got married. Problem: Except for CA, DE, MN and the District of Columbia, the other states that now recognize same-sex marriages (and will marry non-residents) won't grant a divorce except to RESIDENTS of that state. In some cases (such as MA), you may have to live there for at least a year, before you can file! 2. NEW MEXICO. This is the only state that currently has neither a law acknowledging same-sex marriages, nor a law that prohibits them. Several counties have started issuing marriage licenses to same sex couples. But are the marriages legal? Probably so on a state level, since the county issued the license. However, the verbiage in the (federal) Dept of Treasury ruling on same-sex marriage states that the marriage will be recognized only if "valid according to the laws of the state" where the ceremony took place. That could be a problem for non-residents, so suggest you hold off on getting married in NM until they decide what they want to do. 3. SOCIAL SECURITY. If you will shortly be filing for either old age or disability benefits from Social Security, be aware that your marital status for filing will be based on the laws of your state. Therefore, if your state does not recognize the marriage from another state, you are considered UNmarried for Social Security purposes, and that precludes you from possibly getting a higher benefit based on your spouse's earning history. This isn't just a one year thing, but applicable for ALL future years. Most couples won't be materially affected by this but, if you are, you might even consider moving to a gay marriage state before filing. 4. DOMESTIC PARTNERSHIPS, CIVIL UNIONS, etc. If you entered into one of these state-recognized arrangements with someone other than the person you are planning to marry, see an attorney to see how you can dissolve that old contract. Failure to do so could make it easier for others to challenge the marriage (DP and CU are enforceable state contracts that generally say you agree to take care of your partner "above all others," which is impossible if you are married.) It can also help your ex seek financial compensation. Ridiculously complicated, and a pain in the ass, right? Absolutely, but this is the kind of thing we will be dealing with, now and in years to come, until ALL laws are adjusted to put us on an even footing. FYI, the concept of a same-sex married couple affects parts of over 1,000 federal laws, not even counting income tax laws! This will take some time, and - for now - ongoing legal advice. = Disclaimer: I am NOT an attorney, and the above is not to be considered legal advice. I am simply presenting some issues you need to understand - and possibly should discuss with your attorney - before entering into a same sex marriage. =


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