The Houston Family Law Blog

Domestic Partnership in Houston

Some cities and municipalities have passed laws to provide for domestic partnerships, which can apply to same-sex couples or heterosexual couples, as long as they are living together without being married. To create a domestic partnership, the partners must register their relationship at a governmental office and declare that they are in a “committed” relationship.

Domestic partnerships provide some of the same benefits as marriage, including the right to coverage under family health insurance, the right to family leave, bereavement leave, visiting rights in hospitals and jails, and other benefits. For a full list of the benefits of a domestic partnership, please contact a Houston family law attorney.

Recently in Domestic Partnership Category

Texas Gay Marriage Ban Struck Down, No Marriages Yet

Same-sex couples and their supporters rejoice: A federal judge has struck down Texas's ban on same-sex marriage because it violated the U.S. Constitution, according to the Houston Chronicle.

Although the ban was struck down, U.S. District Judge Orlando Garcia stayed his decision, which means that the ban will remain in effect until the decision is appealed.

So until the ban is appealed, same-sex couples in Texas won't be able to get married.

Same-Sex Couples: How to Protect Your Assets

How can same-sex couples protect their assets?

While the Supreme Court did recently rule on two important gay marriage issues, same-sex marriage still isn't legal in Texas. Thus, unmarried couples' assets may not be subject to the same treatment that a legal married couple's might.

How can a same-sex couple protect their assets in Texas? Here's an overview of what one's options may look like after a break-up, or even after a death.

Ricki Lake Elopes and Marries Christian Evans

Ricki Lake, the star of Hairspray, and former talk show host, recently decided to get married to her fiancee Christian Evans, but did so by eloping, reports the Houston Chronicle.

Eloping to get married is not really a legal concept per se, in that it basically involves carrying out all the protocols of a wedding without really informing people. But that does not change the fact that a contract has been entered into.

And, ultimately, any marriage is a contract.

Living Together Before Marriage: Not Impacting Divorce

There used to be, especially in places like Texas and the rest of the South, some social stigma attached to living together before marriage. One of the reasons previously offered was that living together led to divorce because, presumably, it took the "shine" off marriage (doesn't marriage do that on its own?). Well, it turns out that living together before marriage is not leading to divorces, reports The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

This is probably good news because nearly 60 percent of couples live together before getting married.

What You Need To Know About Palimony

Before you can get to the question of what you need to know about palimony in Texas, you might be wondering, what is palimony?

According to the researchers at FindLaw, people use the term “palimony” to refer to support paid to an ex-partner when the couple was never married. Palimony is not a legal term and carries no legal significance. In fact, members of unmarried couples have no rights to support, unless the two have previously agreed on it. To avoid a tense disagreement about palimony, it is in the couple’s best interest to include whether or not support will be paid in a written agreement.

Cohabitation Rates Higher, But, um, What is Cohabitation?

More and more Americans are choosing cohabitation as their preferred form of living arrangement, reports Freakanomics.

Citing a Pew Research Study, entitled “Living Together: The Economics of Cohabitation,” the website reports that the number of 30- to 44-year-olds living as unmarried couples has more than doubled since the mid-1990s.

But while many people are choosing cohabitation over marriage, it is important to understand exactly what is cohabitation. FindLaw’s Learn About the Law provides ample explanation:

Out of State Same-Sex Marriage Recognized in Washington

The state of Texas does not recognize marriage between two people of the same sex, even if the marriage was performed legally outside of the Lone Star state. However, not every U.S. state has these same rules.

Associated Press reports that the state of Washington now recognizes out-of-state same-sex marriages, thanks to a new bill that was signed by Washington Governor Chris Gregoire. The governor described the new law as a "technical correction" because the state had previously recognized only domestic partnerships and civil unions. Now, people in same-sex marriages can receive the same benefits as well.

Should Texas Repeal the Same-Sex Marriage Ban?

Houston's state representative Garnet Coleman filed a joint resolution this week to repeal Texas' constitutional amendment banning same-sex marriage, but it looks like it will be nearly impossible to overturn the gay marriage ban at this time.

According to the Dallas Voice, the resolution to repeal the same-sex marriage ban requires a two-thirds majority vote in both the House and Senate. In the unlikely event that the resolution does pass through the Legislature, the amendment will still need to be approved by a simple majority of voters with a ballot initiative. Texas voters approved of the constitutional same-sex marriage ban in 2005.

Does Texas Allow Transgender Marriages?

There's much debate among Texas family law attorneys on whether the state should have issued a marriage license to a transgender woman who wanted to marry her long-time girlfriend. There are state laws that clearly ban gay marriage, but what about transgender marriage?

The Austin Statesman reports that a woman named Sabrina Hill used to be a man before her sex change operation. On her New York birth certificate, she is listed as a man named Virgil. Yet on her Arizona driver's license, she is listed as a female. It raises the question of how sex should even be determined in marriage cases.

More Houston Residents Accepting Adoption For Gay Couples

More and more people in Houston have come to support the idea of adoption for gay couples, as shown through a newly-released study. Fox News reports that the Houston Area Study conducted by Dr. Stephen Klineberg found that only 19 percent of the people in the Houston area favored adoption rights for gay couples in 1991. Now in the year 2010, the study shows that the percentage has increased to 52 percent.

"I think the main difference [in acceptance] is more and more people know somebody who is gay or lesbian," says Houston Adoption Attorney Mitchell Katine, who handles legal matters surrounding adoptions for gay couples and lesbian couples.