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What does the new Supreme Court ruling mean for same-sex couples?

Until the Supreme Court struck down Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) last week, same-sex couples did not have the same legal protections and privileges as married couples. The case, The United States v. Windsor, has changed that and with it, same-sex married couples now have married privileges and rights.

What does that mean for Colorado same-sex unions when it comes to separations and family law issues? What does that mean for other states where same-sex unions are not recognized? In terms of federal benefits, same-sex married couples will be eligible Social Security benefits, just like married heterosexual spouses. The Social Security Office will need to update their internal procedures and forms, though, and it's not known how long this will take. In addition, a same-sex spouse will be now recognized by business retirement plans, as well.

It is advised that those who are affected by the Supreme Court decision review their designations of beneficiaries, spousal-consent requirements and tax forms. Taxes are going to take some time for the Internal Revenue Service to catch up because it will require new tax forms, filing statuses, etc.

This ruling, though, will only apply to those same-sex couples whose marriages are recognized under the law. In other words, same-sex marriages are recognized or will be recognized by the end of the year in 12 states and the District of Columbia. Civil unions are recognized in four states, including Colorado. This ruling will not apply to same-sex domestic partnerships in other states - at least not at this time.

Many same-sex couple are now making plans to marry and live in states that recognize their marriage, as they want the same federal benefits heterosexual couples have. Remember, that for some, marriage will also mean divorce settlements in the future. This means family law issues such issues as property division, child custody, child support and alimony. A Colorado divorce attorney will be able to discuss your rights and options afforded to you under the law.

Source: standfordadvocate.com, "DOMA ruling means big retirement benefits for gay marrieds" Julie Jason, Jun. 28, 2013

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