Recently in Gay Marriage Category

May 22, 2012

Florida Same-sex Marriage and Divorce? California Presents and Interesting Solution

gay_divorce_2006_thumb.jpgSame-sex marriage is only legally recognized in a few states. However, many gay and lesbian couples reside in Florida. As a Jacksonville Gay and Lesbian Issues Lawyer, I receive numerous calls from same-sex couples that live in Jacksonville, Florida seeking a divorce.

Florida, like the majority of states that don't recognize same-sex marriage, does not recognize same-sex divorce. This is because granting a same-sex couple a divorce is basically a legal recognition that the couple was married in the first place. If you live in Florida and have been married in a state which allows for same-sex marriages, getting a divorce in Florida is not possible. Obtaining a divorce might require, among other conditions, that you establish residency in the state in which you were married. Generally speaking, most states require residency in their state for six months, a year, or even more.

If you were married in California, however, you may have a new option. California's governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law a bill that allows couples who were married in California to file for divorce in California -- even if the couple no longer lives there. For example, if you were married in California's Orange County, moved to Florida's Orange County, and are now seeking a divorce, the California County that married you still has jurisdiction to grant your divorce.

While this is good news for couples that were married in California, couples married in other states will still have trouble securing a divorce. If you and your partner have decided to draw your relationship to a close, talk with a Jacksonville Gay and Lesbian Issues Lawyer to discuss some of your options.

February 10, 2012

9th Circuit Rules 2008 Proposition against Gay Marriage Unconsitutional

gay marriage constitution.jpgToday the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the August 2010 District Court decision that ruled Proposition 8 in California is unconstitutional. Prop. 8 is the 2008 measure that stripped same-sex couples of the right to marry in California.

While this is great for people within the 9th circuit, those of us including those living in Florida who are not within the jurisdiction of the court must rely on potentially differing interpretations of laws within our states.

The Court also rejected Prop 8 supporters' argument that Judge Vaughn Walker (who presided over the District Court proceedings) should have recused himself from the case because he is gay and in a same-sex relationship.

The court ruled that Proposition 8 violates the 14th amendment of the United States Constitution because it "serves no purpose, and has no effect, other than to lessen the status and human dignity of gays and lesbians in California, and to officially reclassify their relationships and families as inferior to those of opposite-sex couples."

Opponents of same-sex marriage remain vigilant in their fight. However, a recent CNN-Opinion Research Corporation poll taken in September 2011 found that public opinion has shifted nationwide since 2009. The poll reports that 53% of people believe that same-sex marriages should be recognized as valid and 46% are still opposed.

The ruling today is significant and is the biggest step that the American judicial system has taken to end the discrimination against men and women in same-sex relationships.

October 3, 2011

Marriage Equality Fight In New Jersey

Jacksonville LGBT--rights lawyer.jpgFlorida gay and lesbian community looks to the rest of the country to track the universal fight for marriage equality. In 2006, New Jersey, enacted a civil union bill. In 2008, a legislative review commission, concluded that civil unions are insufficient and do not provide equality. This past summer a new lawsuit was filed in the Garden State again demanding marriage equality.
The LGBT community in Jacksonville and all over the Sunshine State, demands equality as well. Without marriage Florida same-sex couples are denied workplace benefits and protections equal to those accorded to married people. Florida may have a long road ahead for gay relationships and the benefits gay couples receive.

As the fight for equality continues, it is of the utmost importance for those in relationships to learn about the various ways that legal documents may protect these relationships. Whether it be the preparation of gay estate planning documents, or domestic partnership agreements, talking with a Jacksonville Attorney who focuses on LGBT issues is recommended.

Having a Jacksonville lawyer prepare gay and lesbian legal documents can help to ensure that you, and not your family (parents, siblings), or the State of Florida will make the decisions as to what happens to your property once you pass away. To schedule a consultation with a Jacksonville Law Firm that is sensitive to the needs of those in same-sex relationships contact a Jacksonville LGBT Rights Attorney

September 6, 2011

Florida Divorce After Gay Marriage

With the recent legalization of gay marriage in New York, gay rights activists are pushing for similar laws in other states. It appears such laws are increasingly likely; however, there is one aspect many people overlook: divorce.

Though this is not exactly a positive topic, it is nevertheless something to consider before traveling to another state (or to Canada) to obtain a gay marriage. Each state that recognizes gay marriage also recognizes divorce. Conversely, states that do not recognize gay marriage will generally not grant a gay divorce.

This is a problem for those couples who are not residents from the state or country in which they legalized the marriage. Those states that recognize gay marriage require residency for anywhere from 6 months to a year before granting a divorce. This leaves many same-sex couples with no way to legally divorce, unless they move to the state of their marriage.

This further complicates division of assets. While splitting assets after divorce is generally a routine matter, splitting assets during a gay divorce can be extremely difficult. Many of the assets will be treated as gifts, so certain taxes might apply. Currently, the tax law allows a $13,000 gift without being subject to the gift tax.  Any payment higher than that, can be taxed. There are ways around this. For example, you and your former partner can enter a settlement agreement that divides the assets in a planned amount. This could involve establishing an irrevocable trust and paying the money out over several years, thereby bypassing the gift tax. Another way is to use some of your lifetime gift tax exemption and filing a gift tax return with the IRS)

Getting a divorce is never easy, especially for same-sex couples. Nevertheless, workable solutions exist. Contact Jacksonville Attorney, Patye Davis at Apple Law Firm to discuss any questions you may have.

Contributed by Kyle R. Kelley, executive editor of Florida Coastal Law Review.

August 1, 2011

Common Law Marriages Outside Of Florida Can Be Valid

marriage license.jpgThe state of Florida has changed its view on common law marriage in 1967 to not allowing it. As a Florida family law attorney, I get many questions from people who have resided together as husband and wife who have never been officially married. Florida will only recognize this type of marriage if it was formed in another jurisdiction that does allow this type of marriage. In a recent case, a couple had lived as husband and wife in another country without ever having been officially married. The Florida court had to follow the laws governing marriage in the foreign country, which allowed the couple to enter into a common law marriage. If you are from a foreign jurisdiction (either another country or another U.S. state), and your "husband" or "wife" has been in an accident, it may be pressing to get a Florida court to determine that you have some marital rights. If you have a situation where you require a determination of marriage, please contact a Jacksonville family law lawyer.

June 30, 2011

Another Small Step Toward Florida Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Relationships

Gay Focus on .jpgThe Jacksonville Gay and Lesbian community knows first hand that the legal process moves slow. Florida was after all, the last state to rule that the ban of adoption by a gay or lesbian person is unconstitutional. So, every baby step when dealing with the everyday issues and recognition towards equality, is a step in the right direction.

This month the Wyoming Supreme Court has ruled the state's courts have jurisdiction to grant the divorce of a same-sex couple who were legally married in Canada. There were, of course, limitations to their decision. However, every recognition of the status of same-sex couples (even when getting a divorce) helps.

To learn about ways that you can protect your Florida same-sex relationship, contact a Jacksonville LGBT attorney.

June 26, 2011

Florida Same-Sex Couples Love New York!

I_heart_NY.jpgOn June 24, 2011, the State of New York became the Sixth state to allow same-sex couples to marry, as Governor Andrew Cuomo signed this legislation into law. The other states are Connecticut, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Vermont, and Iowa. Also included is the District of Columbia.

The legalization of gay marriage in New York has sparked a celebration which is estimated to add $284 million dollars to the state's economy, by the thousands of gay and lesbian couples from New York and out of state who will marry in New York. The law, which takes effect after 30 days from the signing, will double the number of Americans in same-sex marriage states.

Florida and other Gay activist are hopeful that the New York Vote will help in the nationwide effort to allow same-sex marriages in all states. This move will assist with pending court cases to illustrate that marriage equality is not a matter of "if" but of "when".

May 11, 2011

Florida Same-Sex Couples Face Same Financial Troubles as their Heterosexual Counterparts.

Debt.jpegGay, lesbian, and same-sex couples living in Jacksonville, Florida, know that they receive little, if any, benefits afforded to husband and wife. No benefits and no legal breaks, even when filing for bankruptcy. If you are a member of the LGBT community and need to file a Florida Bankruptcy, the bankruptcy laws do not provide equal protections.

The federal law DOMA (1996 Defense against Marriage Act) does not recognize same-sex marriages. Bankruptcy laws are federal laws, and therefore, the bankruptcy laws don't benefit same-sex couples who must file for bankruptcy. For example, bankruptcy laws allow heterosexual married couples to keep enough property to support both husband and wife, but not for same-sex marriages. Same-sex couple are unable to file jointly with their partner, which causes additional expenses and complications for them.

If you live in Jacksonville, are in a same-sex relationship, and are contemplating filing bankruptcy, contact a Bankruptcy Attorney who will provide you with the guidance needed to direct your through the bankruptcy maze. To view various bankruptcy articles please visit our new Bankruptcy Blog site.

April 13, 2011

Same-Sex Couples Adopt; Same-Sex Couples Marry Elsewhere

gay marriage.jpgLegal progress, although slow, continues for gay and lesbian individuals and same-sex couples in Florida and all over the country. The entertainment industry has had and continues to express sentiments about gay and lesbian issues through their characters in prime time television shows, in movies which focus on gay relationships, and in music.

The movie "The Kids are all Right" depicted a same-sex couple who had 2 children through a sperm donor, and the ensuing complications that arose when the sperm donor was identified. Most recently, a renowned bestselling author has released a new novel.

"Sing You Home" written by Jodi Picoult is a book about the challenges that same-sex couples face when marrying and adopting. It is encouraging to know that the difficult issues faced by same-sex couples are being explored and shared through a "mainstream" author. This St. Augustine Family Law Attorney looks forward to reading this book.

February 25, 2011

Gay Marriage in Florida . . . Are The Florida Tides Turning ?

images.jpgIn a stunning announcement the Obama Administration just announced that it will no longer enforce a federal law barring gay marriage.

In Florida, a constitutional amendment which bans same-sex marriages passed with 61% of the vote. Florida has adopted DOMA (Defense of Marriage Act) as state law. DOMA, which was signed into law by President Clinton in 1996, effectively denies access to marriage-based federal benefits by same-sex couples.

The U.S. Supreme Court is expected to take a California case challenging that state's defense of marriage initiative. If the Court rules that the California law violates the equal protection clause, then all bets are off.

The new administration in Tallahassee may be gearing up for a sunshine battle over the thought of Florida same-sex marriages, but for now, Florida's Attorney General, Pam Bondi, has declined to comment on the turn of the tide in Washington.

December 6, 2010

Florida Gay Marriage Advocates look to California

Jacksonville gay marriage proponents waiting for the oral arguments over California's Proposition 8. Over the summer, a district judge held the ban on gay marriage unconstitutional and since August 16th the law has been on hold. Read more about the California panel of judges that will be hearing oral arguments in this case.

As Florida does not recognize same-sex marriages, Jacksonville gay and lesbian families would do well to consult with a Florida Gay and Lesbian Family Law Attorney who can provide information about the various legal documents that create marriage like agreements. Whether they are called domestic partnership agreements, living together contracts or something else, these documents reflect the intentions that you and your partner have towards issues such as title of real and personal property, property owned before the relationship began and property either or both of you accumulate during the relationship.

Agreements which memorialize Jacksonville gay and lesbian relationships are contracts. Traditional contract considerations such as intent, capacity to enter into a contract as well as other considerations must be met. As these contracts create enforceable legal rights, it is best to discuss what you want to achieve, and obtain advice from a Jacksonville gay and lesbian friendly law firm for important issues to consider, and clauses to include in any written legal document.

November 23, 2010

Gay and Lesbian Shared Parenting Agreements

Jacksonville Gay and Lesbian Family Lawyer.jpgIf you live in or around Jacksonville Florida, are gay or lesbian, have children, and share parenting responsibilities, it is important to have a Gay or Lesbian Shared Parenting Agreement. Having a written legal document which expresses your intentions and wishes as to raising your child is imperative.

Being a Gay or Lesbian parent in Jacksonville is no longer based on a man-woman, husband-wife model. Courts continue to wrestle with the concept of non-legal parents seeking custody and visitation with children, following divorce, separation, or termination of a relationship. A written agreement which describes both the legal as well as non-legal parent's role to the child, and outlines custody, visitation and other issues, will give both parents the opportunity to be heard in mediation or court, should a break-up occur.

There is an emerging body of case law addressing custody and visitation rights of the non-legal parent. Keeping in mind the best interest of the child standard, it may be in your families best interest to consult with a Jacksonville Gay and Lesbian Rights Attorney to discuss how a Shared Parenting Agreement can help you.