Common Law Marriage, LGBT Marriage, and Domestic Partnerships

Common Law Marriage

The term "common law marriage" generally refers to two people living as husband and wife and holding themselves out as husband and wife but lacking a marriage license or legally recognized ceremony. The State of New York does not recognize common law marriage. But New York Courts will recognize the common law marriage of another state. There are eight states that still recognize common law marriage: Alabama, Colorado, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and South Carolina. The issue arises in New York if the spouses reside here in New York after they legally achieved the status as common law spouses in another state.

Same Sex Marriage Is Now The Law Of The Land

The profound legal obstacles faced by the LGBT community are well known. New York has authorized same sex marriage since 2011. Many LGBT obstacles were ameliorated in the United States Supreme Court's landmark decisions United States v. Windsor (2013) and Obergefell v. Hodges (2015). After the Windsor case in 2013, the federal government was compelled to recognize same sex marriage. In June 2015, the United States Supreme Court decision in Obergefell v. Hodges held that none of the states can ban same sex marriage. Same sex marriage is now legal in a growing number of countries outside the United States: Argentina, Belgium, Canada, Iceland, Netherlands, Mexico City, Norway, Portugal, South Africa, Spain and Sweden.

Still, within and outside New York state, representation of LGBT clients can present unique legal challenges. As a New York matrimonial law attorney for more than 38 years, I understand all aspects of matrimonial law as well as the divorce/separation event. I have handled many high net worth and high-profile divorces and other matrimonial issues, and I have more than 200 appearances on national television. I have witnessed and participated in the evolution of the jurisprudential landscape firsthand, from the recognition of gender equality to official recognition for the LGBT community.

LGBT and domestic partnership clients require the same expertise as traditional matrimonial and divorce law cases. I represent members of the LGBT community regarding agreements and the financial dissolution and child custody issues arising in and from:

  1. Domestic unions
  2. Marriage
  3. Cohabitation
  4. Partnership and separation agreements

Domestic Partnerships

New York City also permits the registration of domestic partnerships. If you reside in New York City, for a $35 fee, you can register as domestic partners.

Legal Counsel for Cohabitation

There are many different and evolving laws to consider when entering a non-traditional cohabitation situation.

Some Important Considerations

There are a few important things that you should consider before entering into a legal nontraditional relationship and before making any major decisions that would affect the status of your relationship. Before you make this type of decision, call me. I can help you with:

  1. Tax considerations: It is important to recognize that Uncle Sam is also your partner. Planning the tax treatment of payments and transactions is crucial.
  2. Cohabitation agreements: A of a traditionally married couple, preparing for , and other issues for the possible event of separation in the future provides useful guidance and precedent.
  3. Separation agreements: Any amateur or unskilled professional with access to the internet can generate a printed document with lots of words and fancy terms. I know how to negotiate and construct the settlement agreement to maximize the benefit for you while minimizing the tension to relationships which may persist and evolve.

For all of my clients in need of legal representation, regarding all forms of marriages and domestic partnerships, I will provide you with the experienced, skilled legal assistance and counsel you need and deserve.

For a free consultation with a lawyer, either call my New York office or contact me online.