The infamous Obergefell v. Hodges case ruled that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment guarantees people the right to marry, which includes same-sex couples. Since this ruling, more same-sex couples are getting married than ever before. Furthermore, there is a developing availability of same-sex m marriage benefits in employment, financial tax filing, and in the legal system!

Besides affirming a commitment, marriage can come with additional benefits. If you or someone you know is considering marriage, it can be helpful to know what benefits are available to you once a couple marries. Benefits can include legal, financial, and employment incentives. The following article contains some examples for each marital benefit.

Legal Same-Sex Marriage Benefits

Adoption for Same-Sex Couples

It is easier to adopt a child if a couple is married since some agencies prefer married parents. In adoptions that involve the birth parents, California Family Code 8801 stipulates that the child’s birth parents shall make the selection of prospective adoptive parents, and they may consider factors such as:

  • Length of marriage
  • Employment
  • Criminal history
  • Home environment

While there are specific criteria that agencies or birth parents may look for in prospective parents, California adoption agencies cannot discriminate against same-sex couples. Unfortunately, some countries do not allow same-sex parents to adopt in international adoptions. If you are considering adoption, it is in your interest to talk with an attorney and see what options are available.

Spousal Privilege in Court Proceedings for Same-Sex Couples

As California Evidence Code 970, a court cannot compel couples bound by a legal marriage can to testify against each other. This code means that if one’s partner were the defendant in a court proceeding the court cannot force testimony. Spouses are legally exempt from testifying against each other in court.

Next of Kin Status for Same-Sex Couples

A next of kin refers to an individual’s closest living relative, and California law gives this status to couples w. Spouses being next of kin is vital in instances such as inheritance succession. Further, if the spouse dies, the next of kin is in charge of ordering any autopsies and deciding how to dispose of the body. According to California Probate Code 6402.5, the next kin can manage any remaining legal matters.

Property for Same-Sex Couples

Once a same-sex couple marries, California law considers future earnings as your and your spouse’s property. This status is known as community property, which refers to what the parties collectively owe or own during the marriage. For example, if an individual creates an IRA and accumulates wealth during wedlock, the court would consider this community property. Debts that money accumulates over time will also be shared.

Financial Same-Sex Marriage Benefits

Marital Tax Deduction

Same-sex couples who marry are eligible for marital tax deductions. The  marital tax deduction allows one spouse to transfer an unlimited amount of assets to the other spouse without paying a tax. If one of the spouses passes away, then all assets in the estate that are over the applicable exclusion amount will be added to the living spouse’s taxable estate. However, it is notable that this marital estate tax deduction is only available to American citizens.

It is worth noting that the tax benefits will depend on the final combined income. High-earning individuals may have fewer benefits, while those who earn similar amounts are more likely to get more.

Individual Retirement Account Contributions

Once a couple marries, they can have a Spousal IRA. If a couple files a joint return, it is possible to contribute to an IRA even if one spouse did not have taxable compensation. Each partner can contribute to the IRA up to the current limit. However, the combined contributions can not exceed the taxable compensation reported on the joint return.

Employment Same-Sex Marriage Benefits

Health Insurance Benefits for Same-Sex Couples

Once married, same-sex couples can be on each other’s health insurance if their employers’ insurance plan allows for dependents. Marriage is a qualifying life event that will enable one to get health insurance coverage from their partner’s plan. All that matters to get this benefit is that the couple is currently in a legal marriage. This is true regardless of location and the insurance plan. Once married, couples have 60 days from the official marriage date to obtain their spouse’s plan coverage. If one misses this deadline, they will have to wait until the next open enrollment period.

If a couple marries, choosing whichever health insurance insurer and plan fits their needs on a cost-effective basis is best. Professionals also recommend checking if the employer’s health insurance plan includes a “spousal surcharge.” A spousal charge is a monthly fee the provider adds to the premium when the other partner is eligible for coverage from their employer.

Social Security Benefits for Same-Sex Couples

Same-sex couples may qualify for social security benefits depending on the spouse’s career. When an employee files for retirement benefits, it is possible that the spouse may also be eligible, but this does depend on how much the working spouse makes. The spouse must be at least 62-years-old to receive social security benefits.

Being able to reap social security benefits is only available to couples who marry. The amount one receives in social security can depend on factors like length of employment and salary.

Paid Family Leave for Same-Sex Couples

Paid Family Leave refers to paid time off from work due to a situation that requires an extended absence than is delegated in the regular sick day off policies and is made available by some employers. This policy allows employees to take time off to care for a sick family member.

This benefit is not available to couples who are dating or engaged. Once a same-sex couple marries and if their employers covers paid family leave, they may use this benefit if their partner becomes exceptionally ill.

Contact Pride Legal

If you or a loved are curious about benefits for same-sex couples considering marriage, we invite you to contact us at Pride Legal for legal counseling or any further questions. To protect your rights, hire someone who understands them.

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