Legally recognized or not, same-sex couples are forming (and will continue to form) loving partnerships. They will have children. Some will also break-up. The Legal Guide to Same-Sex Marriage, Parenting & Divorce in Washington State will cover many of the important legal issues facing same-sex couples in Washington State.
We begin by addressing some of the most common LGBT legal issues in our Quick Guide: Same-Sex Family Law Tips. The guide's tips will help same-sex couples establish and protect their rights as a family.
Don’t Leave Home Without It: Power of Attorney
Same-sex couples, regardless of marital status, should have powers of attorney drafted by an attorney with experience in LGBT estate planning. This document gives you and your partner rights in healthcare settings to make decisions for each other, if the other becomes unable to do so.
Protect Your Relationship with Your Children: Co-Parent Adoptions
If you and your same-sex partner, regardless of marital status, have children together, the non-biological parent should legally adopt the children to protect your child-parent relationship.
Tax Season: Make Sure Your Accountant Knows What They’re Doing
The complexities of filing federal income tax returns for same-sex couples can be daunting, even for tax professionals. Do yourself a favor and find an accountant or tax attorney who knows the ins and outs of tax returns for same-sex couples. Make sure that he/she does not rely on a software program to do it—most of these programs are unable to differentiate the tax consequences of a civil union, domestic partnership and marriage. The federal government only recognizes marriages, so couples in domestic partnerships or civil unions should always meet with a tax professional.
Protect Your Partner: Get a Good Estate Plan
All couples in Washington State should strongly consider estate planning. It is particularly important for couples who are not legally married. These couples will want to speak with an estate planning attorney prepared to advise them regarding tax consequences resulting from the transfer of property that do not apply to married couples.
It is also important to have a good estate plan if you live, plan to move to, or have property in a state that does not recognize same-sex marriage. Estate planning will reduce the potential for issues caused by a state’s lack of recognition of your relationship.
The general rule with estate planning is to review your estate plan every five years. For same-sex couples, they should revisit their estate plan whenever there are major changes in the law or major changes in their lives.
Find an Exceptional LGBT Family Law Attorney
Almost every same-sex couple can benefit from consulting a family attorney who is well-versed in issues affecting same-sex families. An LGBT family law attorney can assist you with all of the recommendations above, as well as provide other advice applicable to your particular situation.
In Washington State, McKinley Irvin has years of experience providing counsel to same-sex couples in the areas of marriage, divorce, custody, estate planning, assisted reproduction, and relationship agreements. Learn more about McKinley Irvin’s LGBT family law services.