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By Amanda Shelton
With marriage equality on the horizon, LGBT couples have a number of important legal matters to consider before and after tying the knot. Although a valid marriage license provides many legal benefits, all couples need to ensure their families and assets are protected. The Shelton & Deon Law Group has vast experience assisting LGBT couples legally through all stages of their relationships.
Although not exactly the romantic side of marriage, any couple prior to marriage should consider a prenuptial agreement. Prenuptial agreements are often utilized in cases of a second marriage or where one party enters the marriage with significantly more wealth or earning potential than the other. Prenuptial agreements are consistently upheld in Michigan when properly drafted and executed. Such agreements will protect your assets and help ensure a desired distribution upon your death or divorce.
LGBT couples must also take steps to ensure their children are legally tied to both parents. If Michigan’s ban on same-sex marriage is overturned as expected, Michigan LGBT couples will be able to obtain a second-parent adoption for their children.
With or without a second parent adoption option, there are a number of estate planning documents that should be executed to protect your children, spouse and loved ones. It is imperative that all couples have up to date estate packages to nominate guardians of their minor children, direct the distribution of assets and provide for who will make medical and financial decisions in the event of medical emergency, disability or death.
With marriage equality will also come the opportunity to dissolve marriages performed in other states. Many same-sex couples who have been married elsewhere but reside in Michigan have found themselves unable to divorce in Michigan and, due to residency requirements, unable to divorce in the state in which they were married. Marriage equality will provide those unhappily married people the legal avenue to divorce one another.