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LGBTQ+ Issues

FAQ #1: Should my boyfriend and I become Domestic Partners or get married?

The decision to become domestic partners is a personal one that depends on various factors, including your individual circumstances and the legal benefits and protections available to you in your specific state or jurisdiction. In the United States, marriage equality has been established nationwide, granting same-sex couples the right to marry and access the legal protections and benefits that come with marriage. However, it is important to note that laws and attitudes towards LGBTQ+ rights may vary between states or even within different regions of the same state.

While the political climate can impact certain LGBTQ+ rights, it is advisable to consult with an attorney who specializes in family law or LGBTQ+ legal issues. They can provide you with guidance and help navigate any changes in the legal landscape.Additionally, it may be helpful to reach out to LGBTQ+ advocacy organizations in your area, as they can provide resources and support and keep you informed about any relevant legal developments or changes that may impact your rights as a gay married couple.

Remember, it's important to make decisions based on your individual circumstances and consult with professionals who are knowledgeable in this area to ensure that you are fully informed about your legal options and rights.

FAQ #2: What's the difference between domestic partnership and marriage?

The difference between marriage and a domestic partnership can vary depending on the jurisdiction as laws differ between states and countries, especially for domestic partnerships. Generally, marriage is a legally recognized union between two individuals, regardless of their gender, that creates certain rights and responsibilities.

In the United States, marriage provides couples with a range of legal benefits and protections, including inheritance rights, tax advantages, healthcare decision-making rights, and spousal benefits such as Social Security or health insurance coverage.A domestic partnership, on the other hand, is a legal status that offers some but not all of the rights and obligations of marriage.

This arrangement is often available to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples, although eligibility requirements and benefits can vary. Typically, domestic partnerships offer certain benefits such as hospital visitation rights, health insurance coverage, and the ability to make medical decisions for a partner, but they may not provide the same extent of legal protections and benefits as marriage.

It's important to consult local laws and regulations to understand the specific rights and responsibilities associated with marriage and domestic partnership in your jurisdiction, as they can differ significantly.

FAQ #3: If we were domestic partners, then got married and now split up. Do we need to get divorced twice?

The domestic partnership statutesin California allows for people to be both married and in a registered domestic partnership at the same time to the same person. When marriage equality was granted, you needed to dissolve your domestic partnership with the Secretary of State as well as proceed through the dissolution process in the Courts to fully terminate your legal relationship with your spouse and domestic partner.

In California now however,, partners (and spouses) in a registered domestic partnership who also are married to one another may file a petition in California Superior Court to dissolve both the domestic partnership and the marriage in a single proceeding.

FAQ #4: I have lived with my same-sex partner for 20 years in California, do we have a common law marriage?

In some jurisdictions, after a certain period of cohabitation, a couple may be considered to have a common law marriage, which can have legal implications similar to a formal marriage. However, California does not recognize or have common law marriage provisions, so you would not have a marriage under California law.

FAQ #5: Does California have common law marriage provisions?

California does not recognize common law marriages from another state. California abolished common law marriages in 1895, and couples who want their relationship to be legally recognized as a marriage must obtain a marriage license and go through a formal marriage ceremony. California only recognizes marriages that are validly executed within the state or are validly executed in another jurisdiction but meet the legal requirements for marriage in California.

Therefore, if a couple has a common law marriage in another state and moves to California, their relationship will not be recognized as a common law marriage in California. It's important to consult with a legal professional who is knowledgeable about California family law for specific advice regarding your situation.

FAQ #6: Are there specific things a same-sex couple needs to consider or include in their Estate Planning?

Same-sex couples may encounter unique considerations in estate planning due to legal and societal differences.

Here are a few considerations that may be relevant:

1. Legal recognition: In California same-sex relationships that do not meet the requirements of the laws for marriage or domestic partnerships, may not be legally recognized or may have limited legal protections. Under the law, you are legal strangers and are not afforded any of the benefits of those relationships. This lack of legal recognition can impact estate planning, inheritance laws, and the recognition of partners as legal beneficiaries.

2. Beneficiary designations: It is crucial for same-sex couples to review and update beneficiary designations on various accounts, such as retirement plans, life insurance policies, and investment accounts. This ensures that your chosen beneficiaries, such as your partner, receive the intended assets upon your death.

3. Healthcare decision-making: Same-sex couples may face challenges when it comes to healthcare decision-making and medical visitation rights. It is essential to establish medical power of attorney (healthcare proxy) documents that grant your partner or chosen individual the authority to make healthcare decisions on your behalf.

4. Guardiaship for children: If you have children, it is essential to establish legal guardianship to ensure that your partner or chosen individual can continue caring for the children in the event of your death or incapacity. This can be done through legal documents such as wills or custody agreements.

5. Tax planning: Due to different tax laws and potential lack of recognition for same-sex couples, tax planning becomes important. Working with a tax professional who is familiar with LGBTQ+ tax issues can help ensure that you take advantage of available deductions, credits, and strategies.

It is essential to consult with legal and financial professionals who are well-versed in LGBTQ+ estate planning issues as they will be able to provide tailored advice based on your specific circumstances and the laws in your jurisdiction.

FAQ #7: What if I can't see my partner when they are hospitalized?

If your partner is hospitalized and the hospital refuses to allow you to see them because you are not considered family, there are several steps you can take:

1. Contact the Hospital: Speak with the hospital administration or patient relations department to inquire about their visitation policies. Ask for clarification on why you are being denied access and explain your relationship with your partner.

2. Provide Documentation: If possible, provide evidence of your relationship with your partner to the hospital. This may include documents such as a marriage certificate, domestic partnership agreement, power of attorney, or any legal documents that establish your partnership or grant you decision-making authority.

3. HIPAA Authorization: Have your partner complete a HIPAA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) authorization form, granting you access to their medical information. This can help demonstrate that your partner consents to your involvement in their healthcare decisions and can strengthen your case for visitation rights.

4. Legal Assistance: If the hospital continues to deny you access, consult an attorney who specializes in healthcare law or family law for guidance. They can help evaluate your options, rights, and potentially advocate on your behalf to ensure your visitation rights are respected.

5. Alternative Visitation Options: If you are unable to gain access to the hospital, inquire about alternative ways to support your partner during their hospitalization. You may be able to communicate with them via phone or video calls, send messages or care packages, or coordinate with their designated family members or friends to stay updated on their condition

It is crucial to familiarize yourself with the specific regulations and policies of the hospital, as they may vary. You should familiarize yourself with healthcare and family law to provide you with the best guidance based on your unique circumstances to ensure that both you and your partner can be with each other through medical situations.

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