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DOMA ruling impacting same-sex divorces

The end of a relationship can be a very difficult and emotional time for those involved. Even if both sides agree that parting ways is proper for them, the transitioning period can be devastating. Dividing up assets and property in a divorce can be problematic for some couples in Massachusetts. Same-sex couples may encounter challenges when it comes to getting a divorce. Although their fight to get married in the state is no longer a pressing issue, their ability to get divorced like traditional married couples still is.

Same-sex partners recently experienced positive changes when DOMA was struck down. This primarily focused on the marriage of the couple. This has been a constant fight for those in Massachusetts and in other states across the nation.

But while the change is for the better, changes from the new law ripple far beyond same-sex marriage. The change will impact many other areas as well. For one, now that same-sex couples can get married, eventually some of them will want to get divorced.

The recent decision also affected taxes, including estate and gift taxes. Consequently, same-sex couples no longer have to file individual taxes; they can file jointly. Same-gender couples also receive estate and gift tax benefits. Those who previously received a significant gift or estate from a living or deceased partner may now file for a tax refund.

Other benefits allowed currently mimic those of opposite-gender couples such as employment benefits, health insurance, social security and Medicare. The recent ruling has also made it easier for a same-sex divorce. Most notably, they can now divide up their property, assets and retirement accounts without the fear of facing tax penalties. In addition, they are able to take advantage of alimony and health insurance without tax burdens or imputed income.

While getting a divorce is never an easy time, same-sex couples often face additional challenges during dissolution. Although the recent changes have provided more equality and benefits, there are still obstacles that married same-sex couples encounter. Those that are unsure about the process or what options they have should seek guidance. This can ensure that their rights and interests are protected.

Source: The Metrowest Daily News, "Looking at DOMA's legal implications," Mike Judge, Dec. 22, 2013

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