Moving Toward True Marriage Equality

With the recent decision of the U.S. Supreme Court, same-sex couples now have the freedom to marry, and divorce, throughout the Country.  There is finally marriage equality.

Certainly, being able to marry is important as not only is it the ultimate demonstration of love and commitment, but it also confers certain legal rights, that to date, some same-sex couples were not able to enjoy.  For example, with marriage, spouses also get certain mandatory rights of inheritance.  In Pennsylvania and New Jersey, a party cannot disinherit his or her spouse and even if one spouse dies without a will, the other will automatically inherit at least a third of the decedent’s estate.  In addition, married couples are able to file taxes jointly and receive social security benefits from their spouse.  They are also entitled to visit their spouse in the hospital and make medical decisions on his/her behalf.

What seems ironic is that by being able to marry, same-sex couples are now also able to divorce wherever they may live.  Prior to this landmark decision, couples who married in States where same-sex marriage was legal and moved to States where it was not, were not able to divorce if the marriage went south.  Our divorce laws are designed to give property and other financial rights to couples who were once married.  Without such rights, there is no standard methodology for dividing property that was acquired during the marital relationship, nor is there any right for a dependent spouse to receive support.

What remains to be seen with the advent of marriage equality, is whether same-sex couples will be given the green light to adopt children as a couple.  If they decide to have children through alternative reproduction technology (“ART”), i.e. a surrogate, egg donor or sperm donor, will both spouses be deemed the legal parents of the child by virtue of their marriage, although one of them has no biological connection to the child?  Once all married couples are treated the same, then we will have true marriage equality.

 

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Posted in Divorce
2 comments on “Moving Toward True Marriage Equality
  1. Julia L says:

    The decision of the US Supreme Court to legalize marriage of same sex couples is a much awaited decision that promotes marriage equality. Previously, it was difficult for same sex couples to be treated equally in case of marriage and divorce due to the absence of such laws. Legalization has resulted in new laws and clauses that protect the rights of same sex couples and prevents legal consequences. In the absence of these laws, there seemed to be no standard methodology for division of property acquired during a marital relationship, along with an absence of the right for a dependent spouse to receive support. While the passing of this law has marked a step towards marital equity, there is still a lot to go over in the future.

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The Family Law Focus blog provides highlights, updates and insights on complex family disputes including divorce, division of property, and alimony; child and spousal support; child custody; domestic violence; pre- and post-nuptial agreements; name changes; and adoption or termination of parental rights.
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The Editor

Jennifer A. Brandt, of Cozen O'Connor's Family Law practice, has represented a wide variety of clients in hundreds of family law cases throughout her career. Jennifer is a regular legal commentator on national and local television outlets such as CNN, Fox New Network, HLN, MSNBC, Fox29, ABC News, NBC and CBS and frequently writes and contributes to articles in numerous publications, including the Huffington Post, Fox Business.com, The PhiIly Post, Avvo.com, Allparenting.com, The Philadelphia Inquirer, The Philadelphia Business Journal, the National Law Journal, and Main Line Today magazine.
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