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July 8th, 2015

FAQ on the Supreme Court Marriage Decision

The recent Supreme Court ruling on marriage has raised a number of questions for people around the country. Here are some of them and our suggested answers:

Q: Will this ruling mean that same-sex married couples with children, both natural and adopted, are automatically the parents?

A: We don’t yet know, and the answer varies state to state. This is a confusing area of family law that is frankly still being sorted out by the experts, and advice from a family law specialist is always recommended. As a general matter, it has always been wise to seek (if available) a pre-birth order for both parents and sometimes to do a second parent adoption. That appears to still be the case until this area of the law gets sorted out.

Q: If we were married in multiple states prior to this ruling, do we need to ‘undo’ or ‘annul’ any of those prior marriages.

A: While every state may be different, as a general matter, there is no need to undo anything (unless you’re planning to get divorced.) For a variety of reasons, couples ‘married early and often’ in the early days of the Equal Marriage movement. California was one place that had it; lost it; got it back, which caused some during that period to marry elsewhere as well. Essentially, now, your earliest (valid) marriage date should govern all your rights – both federally and under state law – and, there is no need to undo prior (duplicative) marriages.

Q: If we were already married prior to this ruling, do we need to do anything differently now?

A: If you lived in one of the states that previously didn’t recognize your marriage (or moved to one) – you will want to consider amending prior year’s state income tax returns to see if you can get a refund. You should always think about updating your will or trust, health care documents and powers of attorney to make sure they are current and reflect your current wishes. But, generally speaking, no – you are all set and can freely travel around these United States and not worry about becoming ‘unmarried’ because of a crazy legal patchwork situation!

For more information, visit: Whether to Wed.