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Texas same-sex couples debating whether or not to leave

A growing number of states now allow same-sex marriages and other allow civil unions. That coupled with the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision providing federal benefits to legally married same sex couples has some same-sex couples in committed relationships in Texas are debating whether to stay here or leave the state for greener pastures. One thing is clear: Same-sex couples who opt to continue to reside in Texas need the assistance of an experienced family law attorney to advise them on how to maximize their available rights under existing state law.

It is yet unclear whether same-sex couples who travel to other states, such as California, to get legally married and then return to Texas where their marriage is not legally recognized by the state will benefit by the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision. That ruling struck down the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) for violating the equal protection rights of gay and lesbian married couples by denying them such federal benefits as filing joint tax returns, receiving Social Security spousal benefits and approximately a thousand other benefits of being in a legally recognized marriage.

Some federal benefits are determined by a person's state of residence, while others are not. Without a doubt, it will take some time for all the legal implications of the U.S. Supreme Court decision to be determined. The Court's reasoning may have also set the stage for yet more court challenges to state laws and practices that discriminate, in one way or another, against same-sex couples.

Already, there are some same-sex couples married in other states or who have entered into same-sex civil unions or domestic partnerships and then moved to Texas. Some legal difficulties for such couples can be circumvented with properly drafted legal documents such as wills, trusts, powers of attorney, and by placing property, such as a home, in joint tenancy with the right of survivorship. Other questions may be more difficult, but an experienced attorney can assist in making the most of available legal options.

Source: DallasVoice.Com, "Couples debate whether to stay or go" David Taffet, Jul. 05, 2013

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