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Extension of federal benefits to same-sex partners

The decision to marry is usually an easy step for Massachusetts couples who desire to spend their lives together. Although the choice might be an easy one to make, the process is not a simple one to go through for same-sex partners. Although same sex marriages are allowed and recognized in the state of Massachusetts, future planning is crucial for the couple. This often means determining if relocation is possible and how a divorce would be carried out. Because some states do not recognize same sex marriages, this can lead to a complex dissolution as well as other difficulties.

It was recently announced that the U.S. government would now recognize same sex marriages in all federal matters as equal to traditional marriages. This means that matters involving bankruptcies, prison visits, benefits and U.S. courts will recognize same-sex couples the same way opposite sex couples are recognized.

This change will only apply to situations where the U.S. government has jurisdiction. For example, if a same sex couple married in Massachusetts and then filed for bankruptcy as a couple, this bankruptcy would be recognized in all other states, even if that state does not recognize the union.

The extension of federal benefits is an initiative to provide equal rights to same-sex couples. It also ensures that as a married couple, same-sex partners are extended the same rights and privileges provided to opposite-sex couples under the federal law. Although this new policy will help provide benefits and equal treatment in the eyes of the federal law, different treatment still exists, especially when it comes to same sex divorce in the various states.

Although great strides have been made over the recent years, obstacles still exist when it comes to same-sex partners being able to divorce. No matter the issue, however, same-sex partners should consider seeking legal advice about their situation in order to determine their course of action.

Source: FOX 8 WGHP, "Federal government to expand recognition of same-sex marriage," Feb. 8, 2014

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