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Showing posts from July, 2010

Who you are today apparently doesn't matter to High Courts

Nikki Araguz, a transgender widow in Wharton, Texas has been landblasted by her husband's family, the media and the residents of Texas because the family is alleging that her husband didn't know she was a male at birth and that the couple were separated at the time of his death.  Now they hoping to declare the marriage invalid so that the firefighter's children will be the ones that inherit his benefits and property.  Why does this matter?

Well in Texas, a male cannot marry another male due to the 2005 Amendment to the Texas Constitution banning said marriages and the Texas Family Code.  It becomes murky when a male begins identifying himself as a female, has a name change, as well as gender reassignment surgery.  The 1999 case that the media are referring to is right on point with the situation that is presented because it holds that no matter how you identify yourself today, the law ALWAYS looks back to the gender identified on your original birth certificate.  So if you …

The Children's Bill of Rights

Marriage is a contract between adults, and when it ends, the matter is between the adults also. Yet no parental action has a greater impact on children. Children love their parents and want to be with them. Even in times of great stress, parents have a responsibility to conduct their legal affairs in a manner that will protect their children from adult conflicts.  For those of you who are in the middle of hotly contested divorce or custody battle, please review the following "Bill of Rights" and endeavor to uphold these rights for the sake of your children.At a minimum, children are entitled to the following Bill of Rights:1. Neither parent shall deny the child reasonable use of the telephone to place and receive calls with the other parent and relatives. 2. Neither parent shall speak or write derogatory remarks about the other parent to the child, or engage in abusive, coarse or foul language, which can be overheard by the child whether or not the language involves the other…

A Legal Guide for Domestic Partners in Texas

Domestic partners, whether same sex or opposite sex, often inquire about what documents they need in place to ensure that their children are taken care of, their partner is protected, and/or that their wishes are carried out.  I recommend the following:

Last Will and Testament - if you have children, property and vehicles, then it's critical that you have a valid will that appoints your partner as the executor, beneficiary and/or guardian of your children.  Guardianship is especially important if you are raising children together and your partner has not had the opportunity to adopt them yet or if there is no other natural parent with parental rights (donor).

General Durable Power of Attorney - This document is crucial should you become incapacitated and can no longer make decisions or manage your finances.  Once you designate your partner as your agent, your partner will have the ability to make financial decisions on your behalf.  However, it is important to to note that you can c…

Boston, Massachusetts Federal Judge Rules Part Of DOMA Unconstitutional

On July 8, 2010, Boston, Massachusetts U.S. District Court Judge Joseph L. Tauro ruled that Section 3 of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) is unconstitutional with respect to claims brought by seven married same-sex couples and three widowers from Massachusetts. Under the ruling, the plaintiffs are entitled to the same federal spousal benefits and protections as every other married couple. The court found that it is up to the STATE to decide whether they can define what marriage is and that the federal government cannot encroach on that definition because it amounts to discrimination. Read decision here.

So what does that mean for couples here in Texas?  Well it's a victory for state rights but unfortunately for Texans, same-sex Texas couples who are married elsewhere, such as Massachusetts, are still ineligible to receive federal benefits because we have our own version of DOMA in the 2005 Amendment to the Texas Constitution that prohibits same-sex marriage.  Thus, no state ben…

One Truly is the Loneliest Number (according to the IRS)

I'm fascinated by this article entitled "One is the Loneliest Number: The Single Taxpayer in a Joint Return World" by Lily Kahng an Associate Professor at Seattle University School of Law.  Her article was published this year in the Hastings Law Journal, Vol. 61 Seattle University School of Law Research Paper No. 10:04.  I'm impressed by her approach to the topic and how she poignantly explains the penalties of being "unmarried" under the Tax Code.  She opines that the Joint Return should be abolished.  She may just be my new hero!  Read the below abstract (compliments of Seattle University School of Law) and download the full article.

Abstract:  The United States is one of the few developed countries to retain the joint return, available for heterosexual married couples only. Since its adoption in 1948, its underlying assumptions have been challenged on many valid grounds, and yet it remains firmly embedded in mainstream political and policy discourse. In r…