Despite the recent Supreme Court ruling declaring the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) unconstitutional, gay marriage is still legally banned Florida. Therefore, same-sex couples wishing to make their relationships official in order to gain certain benefits and plan for their future must use legal tools to do so.
The best way for lesbian and gay couples in Florida to achieve an arrangement similar to marriage is by creating both an estate plan — a set of documents that protects each spouse’s wishes in case of death or incapacity — and a domestic partnership agreement.
For you and your partner, the following documents should be considered for inclusion in a combined estate plan (of course, there may be additional documents to consider, depending on the specific circumstances of the partners):
A domestic partnership agreement should also be considered, which would provide for your property and your family, especially if you have or plan to have children. Additionally, this legal contract can include directives for distributing property in the event that you and your partner end your relationship — in this way it serves a similar purpose to a prenuptial agreement. The following issues should be addressed:
This list is not exhaustive, but instead a good jumping-off point. Different couples may have different needs depending on their unique circumstances. Marriage equality in Florida could still take significant time to achieve, and until then, gay couples must protect themselves.
This post was composed by Florida family lawyer Deborah Greene, with contributions from attorney Shane Hebert. For more information on issues relating to gay marriage and divorce, consult an attorney.