Many factors for Massachusetts couples considering gay marriage

Contemplating marriage can be one of the most important and life-altering decisions that someone will ever make. Same-sex couples in Massachusetts can potentially face many areas of confusion when deciding if the time is right to get married. A recent decision made by the U.S. Supreme Court struck down part of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). As a result, each individual state is able to determine some of the legal variables involved in a gay marriage.

There are currently 13 states, including Massachusetts, where same sex marriage is legal. Of the 37 states which do not recognize same-sex marriage, some still offer benefits to same sex partners, while other states grant them no legal status. Tax implications vary across the country for these couples. For example, an individual living in a state that doesn’t recognize gay marriage — but was legally married in a state which does — would be required to declare his or herself as single on any state tax returns.

Same-sex couples traveling abroad could face potential risks. Some countries consider any small display of public affection between same-sex partners to be a crime. The possible hurdles in the way of splitting up might be the most important consideration of all for these individuals. Currently, many same-sex couples would have to relocate to a state which recognizes the legality of their marriage — just to be able to formally divorce.

The difference in the interpretation of our laws from state to state could create a lot of confusion and stress for some individuals in a same-sex marriage. Even though Massachusetts has recognized gay marriage since 2004, any of its residents that are considering or involved in a divorce with their same-sex partner may benefit by researching their rights under state laws. A more thorough knowledge of one’s rights could put them on a path toward achieving a comprehensive and binding settlement.

Source:, Op-ed: 5 Questions to Ask Before Tying the Knot, Robert Stanley, Sept. 25, 2013

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