MONTHLY ARCHIVES: OCTOBER 2014
MARRIAGE EQUALITY IN VIRGINIA
MARRIAGE EQUALITY IN VIRGINIA
SAME-SEX COUPLES: WHAT DOES TODAY’S SUPREME COURT DECISION MEAN?
On October 6, 2014, the Supreme Court denied review of seven Federal Circuit Court rulings (from the Tenth, Seventh, and Fourth Circuits) that held state bans on same-sex marriage violated the U.S. Constitution. In denying review, the Supreme Court has effectively allowed those favorable rulings to stand. This means:
- Oklahoma, Utah, Virginia, Indiana, and Wisconsin will soon be added to the list of states allowing same-sex marriage.
· Marriage bans in the other states within those three Federal Circuits will also likely be invalidated upon challenge via stare decisis, including North Carolina, South Carolina, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas, and West Virginia.
- An additional 51 million Americans live in states where same-sex marriages are now, or will soon be, recognized and performed, making states supporting marriage equality the official majority of U.S. states (with 30 states plus the District of Columbia allowing same-sex marriage following the Court’s decision not to grant certiorari).
In Virginia, the Fourth Circuit held, in August 2014, that Virginia’s same-sex marriage ban was unconstitutional. The implementation of that decision was delayed while the Supreme Court determined whether it would accept the case on appeal. Since that appeal has now been denied, the Virginia Attorney General has issued a statement indicating that the Fourth Circuit is expected to lift the stay by 1:00 PM on October 6, 2014, allowing marriages to begin at that time across the Commonwealth. Clerks of court are currently preparing to issue marriage licenses.
What does this mean for Virginia residents? The decision of the Fourth Circuit Federal Court of Appeals will stand and same sex marriages will now be performed in and recognized in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
I WAS MARRIED IN A JURISDICTION THAT LEGALLY ALLOWED SAME SEX MARRIAGE -WHAT SHOULD I KNOW?
- You are now legally married in the Commonwealth of Virginia and afforded all of the rights and obligations of a legally married couple.
- You are legally married for all purposes under federal law.
- You must now file married state as well as federal tax returns.
- If you are the non-legal parent of your children, you may now obtain a step-parent adoption in the Commonwealth of Virginia and become a legally recognized parent of your child(ren).
- You may now travel across local state lines (MD, DC, and VA) and your marriage will be recognized in all jurisdictions.
- The question of how far back your marriage will be recognized will not be answered in advance. If other jurisdictions are any indication, your marriages will at least relate back to when your same sex marriage became legal in this Commonwealth: either when the Fourth Circuit decision came down (July 28, 2014), or when the District Court decision came down (February 14, 2014). There is the possibility that your marriage can relate back to when it was validly performed in the jurisdiction in which you were married.
- You may now re-deed any Virginia property between you and your spouse so that it is owned as Tenants by the entireties – a right only afforded to legally married couples.
- You may now qualify for coverage of health insurance and other spousal benefits available through your spouse’s employer.
- You may now get divorced in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and all of the rights and privileges as well as obligations of marriage, including, but not limited to spousal support, child support, child custody, child visitation/custodial access, equitable distribution, and fault-based divorces are now available to you.
I AM NOT CURRENTLY MARRIED – WHAT SHOULD I KNOW?
- You may now get married in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
- If you want to legally adopt your children, you may do so via step-parent adoption if you first get married.
- If you get married, and then have children, your children should be the product of your marriage and you should both be legally recognized on the birth certificate as parents. Because not all 50 states recognize your marriage, you should still perform a second- or step-parent adoption so that your legal relationship to your children can be recognized in all 50 states.
- Before rushing to get married, you should consult a family law attorney to discuss possible Premarital Agreements, Property Agreements, and/or Custody Agreements.
This Press Release is provided for informational purposes only. While every effort has been made to ensure accuracy, the contents of the Press Release should not be construed as legal advice, which, of necessity, must relate to specific factual situations and claims. This Press Release DOES NOT create an attorney-client relationship between our Firm and any reader. You are urged to consult with counsel concerning your own situation.
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