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In August 2013, same-sex marriage became an officially recognized form of marriage in Rhode Island. Because this area of law is quite new, many couples have legal questions and concerns, and at Kirshenbaum Law Associates, our attorneys are glad to provide legal counsel to help you address your issues.
State congresses have the authority to enact laws governing marriage and divorce and state courts have jurisdiction over family law issues that arise. As of September, 2013, thirteen states and the District of Column recognize and allow same-sex marriages to be performed in their states. The new Rhode Island law amended existing state statutes and defined marriage as “the legally recognized union of two people.” The statutes maintain restrictions against marrying relatives, such as a sibling, parent, grandparent, child, grandchild, stepparent, grandparent’s spouse, spouse’s child, spouse’s grandchild, sibling’s child or parent’s sibling. However, the revised statute specifically states you can “marry any other eligible person regardless of gender.”
Same-sex couples can go through the marriage process in Rhode Island just as any traditional couple goes through the process of getting married.
The statute also addresses out-of-state marriages. It states that when couples enter into valid legal unions other than marriages in other states, Rhode Island grants them the same rights as couples in a valid marriage in Rhode Island. This holds true as long as they basically have the same rights, benefits and responsibilities as a marriage and their union does not fall under prohibited marriage factors based on Rhode Island statutes (bigamy and kinship).
In a same-sex marriage, couples enjoy the exact same rights and benefits as couples in traditional marriages. By comparison, a civil union grants many but not all of the same rights to same-sex couples. In most states, civil unions are only recognized in the states where the couples reside. If you are in a civil union, your rights derive directly from that state’s particular law governing civil unions. The same is true of states that recognize domestic partnerships. Typically, domestic partnerships are for both unmarried traditional couples and same-sex couples.
The most significant difference between marriages and domestic partnerships or civil unions is at the federal level. Marriages offer couples protection under federal laws in terms of certain financial and tax benefits. The federal government General Accounting Office (GAO) indicates that U.S. citizens are privileged to more than 1,100 rights upon marriage, including health insurance, veteran’s benefits, Social Security benefits, Medicaid, estate taxes, hospital visitation, family leaves, immigration laws and retirement plans, to name a few.
The IRS has just ruled that it will recognize same-sex marriage performed in a state where same sex marriage is legal. This is true even if the state of residence does not recognize the marriage.
Today many married couples seek additional protection from prenuptial agreements, which now also apply for same-sex couples in Rhode Island.
Our attorneys at Kirshenbaum Law Associates, Inc. are highly skilled and seasoned, offering clients over 100 years of combined legal experience. We offer flexible office hours for your convenience and encourage you to make an appointment to discuss your legal concerns with a lawyer at Kirshenbaum Law Associates, Inc. today. Contact us online or call 401-437-5169.
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