What are the differences between civil unions and same sex marriages? What should you know about issues like prenuptial agreements and divorce?
A civil union, or domestic partnership, is similar to marriage; however, it is only recognized by the specific state and not by the federal government. The benefits include enjoying the same legal and financial advantages that married couples are entitled to as well as solving problems like hospital visitation rights. It even includes transfer of property rights that once only applied to married couples. Those who are in agreement with civil unions say that it is a good way to give same-sex couple equal legal rights while steering clear of the controversial issues that same-sex marriage brings about. Civil unions first appeared in the United States in 2000. Vermont passed a law allowing them, but because of the Defense of Marriage Act, other states are not required to recognize them. Numerous other states have since followed in Vermont’s footsteps, but it remains to be seen if it will ever be recognized by the country as a whole.
The state of New York not only recognizes civil unions, but they also recognize same-sex marriage. In 2011, the Marriage Equality Act was passed. This law states that marriage is legal between opposite sex couples and same sex couples. It ensures that same sex couples are to receive the same government treatment, rights, privileges, legal status, protection, and responsibility that other couples enjoy. It also states that religious institutions cannot be punished for refusing to perform these ceremonies should it go against their doctrine. Even though this law brings more legal benefits to same sex couples, these marriages are not recognized by the federal government and so are not given certain federal benefits. Since this could affect issues such as Social Security, it is recommended that couples seek the help of a divorce attorney who is knowledgeable concerning the laws in New York.
If you are considering entering into a civil union or same sex marriage, it is important to speak with a divorce attorney in order to understand all your rights. Creating a prenuptial agreement is recommended for every couple. This does not mean that the marriage will necessary end, but it does bring greater clarity and transparency for everyone. It allows couples to be upfront regarding children, assets, property division, and more. If you are married and there are children involved, a divorce attorney can guide you through issues like child custody, visitation, and child support. Contact a lawyer to discuss your case in detail.