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What legal issues do same-sex partners face in Florida?

If you've been paying attention to the news lately then you're probably aware of the push by the LGBT community for equal rights across the nation. Perhaps sparked by the win in the U.S. Supreme Court case Windsor v. United States, LGBT members across the nation, including here in Florida, are demanding that their voices be heard and their rights recognized.

Last month, our own state saw some progress in the way of giving rights to LGBT couples when U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle ruled that the ban on same-sex marriage in our state was unconstitutional. But while this is being seen as a huge victory by some, it's important to remember that this does not mean that same-sex marriage is allowed in our state, nor does it necessarily mean that our courts will recognize the marriage as legal in the event of a divorce.

As some of our Hillsborough County readers may know from firsthand experience, this hodge-podge of laws regarding same-sex partners can make for particularly contentious litigation. This is especially true when it comes to family law, which brings us to this week's question: what legal issues do same-sex partners face in Florida?

Divorce is probably the biggest issue facing same-sex partners in Florida because our state currently does not perform or recognize same-sex marriage. Because of this, a same-sex couple may not be granted a divorce, which can create problems involving everything from the family home to other assets.

Child custody issues are another thing that same-sex partners face in our state. While most people associate child custody with divorce, issues concerning custody can arise out of a number of other things including cases of domestic violence, child abuse or neglect, and even adoption issues.

Finally, estate planning is perhaps the one people think of the least but can cause the most problems, especially if the person for whom the estate plan was made dies or becomes incapacitated. Abiding by the law becomes difficult if you do not know what a person's intentions were; and when same-sex marriage is thrown in the mix, it can complicate these situations even further.

Source: CNN, "Same-Sex Marriage Fast Facts," Sept. 13, 2014

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