Same-sex marriage and domestic partnerships are now recognized in the state of Alabama. In Searcy v. Strange, United States District Court Judge Callie V.S. Granade ruled that the State of Alabama's statutes prohibiting same sex couples from marrying or prohibiting the State of Alabama from recognizing out-of-state marriages violates the Equal Protection and Due Process Clause of the United States Constitution. On February 9, 2015, the stay granted by Judge Granade was lifted as the United States 11th Circuit Court of Appeals and the United States Supreme Court refused to grant a stay filed by Alabama's Attorney General, Luther Strange. Gay and lesbian couples throughout the state are welcome to marry as of February 9, 2015.
At the Huntsville, Alabama, law office of Shelley L. Bilbrey, PC, our attorneys help same-sex couples with the following legal protection in light of the changing legal status of gay and lesbian partners:
1. Drafting and executing pre-nuptial and post-nuptial agreements to protect property rights and interests of one of the parties to the marriage.
2. Drafting and executing estate planning documents to fully protect each party in the event of incapacitation or death.
3. Representing the parties in a spousal adoption pursuant to Alabama Code § 26-10A-27 for those couples with children.
4. Representing one of the parties in a divorce action for those marriages or civil unions that are unsuccessful.
North Alabama Same-Sex Separation AttorneysAt Shelley L. Bilbrey, PC, our attorneys draft documents and provide litigation expertise for all legal areas impacting same sex couples and their children.
Same-sex couples in the State of Alabama now have the same rights and responsibilities as heterosexual couples do in this state. Part of the responsibility involves protecting assets and income streams before entering into a marriage. Even if the same sex couple married in another state prior to the State of Alabama's recognition of their marriage, a post-nuptial agreement can articulate a property division should the marriage fail in the future. This can prevent both parties from incurring the same legal and emotional expenses that other couples unfortunately experience within the context of a divorce.
Even though the State of Alabama now recognizes a married spouse as the next of kin, some entities in the state are refusing to abide by the law. To ensure that your wishes are carried out to the fullest extent, both parties should draft and execute estate planning documents which include the following:
1. A Last Will and Testament (grants property to the designated beneficiary)
2. A Durable Power of Attorney (grants the right to a person to conduct the financial and health care affairs for someone who is incapacitated)
3. An Advanced Health Care Directive (directs health care officials to revive or abstain from reviving someone in certain circumstances such as a permanent coma)
4. A Disposition of Remains (directs how the remains are to be disposed, i.e. cremated or buried)
Common Law MarriageAlthough it is unlikely to be successful in a common law marriage claim in the context of a divorce, the possibility exists. Furthermore, it is possible to make a common law marriage claim in the context of an estate contest. Although gay and lesbian couples could be casual about rings and terms of endearment in the past, those same actions can now be used to make a common law marriage argument. Even if the claim is unsuccessful, the cost of legal fees can be exorbitant.
If a couple does not desire to be wed, they should consider making the following adjustments:
1. Change matching rings.
2. Change relationship status on social websites from married to in a relationship or single.
3. Refrain from referring to the other person as a husband, wife or spouse, even in jest.
4. Look at membership applications and make sure the other person is not listed as a spouse.
5. Do not file a joint tax return.
6. Do not hold yourself out as married in any form.
It is important to remember that when two people share the benefits of joint property, they often share the risk as well. If you own property jointly with your partner, you will both be held responsible for any debts - such as mortgages - attached to the property, regardless of your marital status.
For help understanding same-sex legal issues in Alabama, contact the law office of Shelley L. Bilbrey, PC, at 256-288-0704.
No representation is made that the quality of legal services to be performed is greater than the quality of legal services performed by other lawyers.