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Florida Same-Sex Marriage

Wedding RingsAs the ban on same-sex marriages in Florida has lifted, many same-sex couples are finding their way to the altar.  These unions are now legally recognized in the eyes of the state and couples are now eligible for the same rights and benefits as heterosexual couples.  So what does this really mean?  The following are just a few examples of life changing benefits all spouses are now entitled to in the State of Florida:

  • Filing a joint tax return
  • Social Security Benefits from a deceased spouse
  • Coverage for health insurance
  • Military benefits
  • Family medical leave benefits under the Family Medical Leave Act
  • Estate tax and estate planning benefits
  • Step-parent adoption for parental rights

Legalization of same sex marriage relieves child custody issues especially in cases when the biological parent dies.  In the past, a couple who raised a child together but the non-biological or non-adoptive parent lost custody because they never had legal rights to the child regardless of the amount of time spent raising the child.  Now through a step-parent adoption, custody will stay intact which is certainly best for the child in most cases.

Clearly the legal landscape has changed.  Many same-sex couples who live in Florida but were married in another state have stayed together because they were not able to divorce.  Now they can divorce and what is the state of divorce involving same-sex couples?  At this time it is still unclear whether same-sex couples married in another state and prior to the ban on “gay” marriages lifted in Florida can divorce.  It may seem so but there is Florida case law denying divorce.  Therefore until an Appeals Court or Supreme Court rules, one should research each county’s position on this issue before taking action.  If allowed to divorce, then all the typical issues such as property distribution, alimony, time sharing, parenting plans and child support will need to be addressed between the couple.

Legalization of same sex marriage relieves child custody issues especially in cases when the biological parent dies.  In the past, a couple who raised a child together but the non-biological or non-adoptive parent lost custody because they have never had legal rights to the child regardless of the amount of time spent raising the child.  Now through a step-parent adoption, custody will stay intact which is certainly best for the child in most cases.

With all of these life changes comes confusion and questions.  Which steps come first?  What is required?  Each situation is unique and answers vary.  A family law and/or an estate planning and asset protection attorney is a great place to start.  As a state certified family and circuit civil mediator as well as a proven and experienced attorney since 1974, Ronald A. Luzim brings an integrative and holistic approach to help his clients take full advantage of the family laws to protect their rights, interests and assist in the healing process. Please contact our Coral Springs office at 954-755-1500 for all your family law related needs.