As a result of the United States Supreme Court’s historic decision in US. v. Windsor, wherein the 1996 Defense of Marriage Act was determined to be unconstitutional and Pennsylvania subsequent acknowledgement of marriage equality, wedding bells are ringing for many same-sex couples throughout the nation. Before you say those “I do’s”, take a minute to assess your relationship from the far less romantic legal perspective.
If you are entering into a marriage with assets or business interests, or you and your intended have acquired assets prior to marriage; you should consider having a prenuptial agreement that addresses how these items, as well as perhaps support, alimony and related economic interests will be addressed should you separate and/or divorce. The ability to marry also gives same-sex couples unprecedented ability to create family units, either through adoption and/or artificial reproductive technology means.
In that same-sex partners were not able to marry until now, real estate acquired jointly is titled as “joint tenants” or “joint tenants with right of survivor ship”, an inferior form of ownership, then property owned jointly by spouses known as “tenancy by the entireties”. In a nutshell, this latter form protects the real estate from potential claims against it for liabilities of one spouse. It is a simple and relatively inexpensive process to “re-deed” property upon marriage into entireties ownership and well worth it.
Finally, while we may not like to think about it, statistically about one-half (1/2) of all heterosexual marriages end in divorce. It’s too soon to tell, but it is likely that this statistic will apply to same-sex marriages as well. Divorce can be a complicated and emotional time for anyone. In that this is a new legal frontier for same-sex couples, there are many unanswered questions such as to how the Courts will treat property acquired while in a same-sex relationship, which results in marriage but is titled in only one spouse’s name.
For more information and to schedule a Legal Consultation, please call (610) 866-9529 or complete an online form https://www.gardnerlawyers.com/contact-us/