Articles Posted in Gay Marriage

The Florida Supreme Court, on March 30, 2017, issued an opinion in Hooker v. Hooker, 220 So.3d 397 (Fla. 2017) finding a Florida horse farm and a New York summer home interspousal gifts and, therefore, subject to equitable distribution as marital property despite a prenuptial agreement in existence.  The prenuptial agreement provided that, upon divorce, each party would retain his or her premarital assets and any appreciation of those assets. Both parties had independent sources of income from family inheritances and they maintained separate finances throughout the marriage.  The parties were married for 23 years.

giftThe Florida horse farm, “Hickstead,” was purchased in 1989 and the Hickstead deed listed “Alice I. Hooker Trust FBO, for the benefit of, Timothy I. Hooker” as the grantee.  Husband and Wife signed the mortgage on Hickstead.  When Hickstead was purchased, it was vacant land and it later became through the course of the marriage a working horse farm with 16 stalls, etc. and the marital home in one wing upstairs and the other wing was the staff apartment.  Wife was “extremely and directly involved in all aspects of the Hickstead residence which was the family’s primary home for approximately 20 years,” according to the findings of the trial court.  Wife was not limited or restricted in any way from incurring the costs and expenses of maintaining and operating a family home at Hickstead, from the Husband’s assets. Wife was provided unfettered access to the stables and horses to pursue her lifelong passion.

The New York summer home, “Lake George,” was purchased in 1997 and was titled only in the Husband’s name and only Husband signed the mortgage.  It was purchased, built and maintained as a summer residence for the family.  The Husband paid the expenses for Lake George with his independent funds and Wife was never a signatory on that account and never had access to that account. However, the Husband sent Wife a card for their tenth wedding anniversary with a picture of the property after the Wife had expressed a desire to have a home up north and both parties searched for a suitable property.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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”.

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.

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.

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