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Unmarried and Gay/Lesbian Issues
by Kim Hess

Mediation is one of the best possible solutions for unmarried couples who want to separate and for married gay couples who are seeking a divorce.

Common-law relationships

How is common-law marriage legally defined?

Common-law marriage pertains to a relationship of an unwed couple living together as husband and wife.

As of January 2009, only a few states legally recognize common-law marriage. This includes Alabama, Colorado, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Montana, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and the District of Columbia. Common-law marriage is strictly defined in these areas.

What is the timeframe?

The period of time you have been living together is a big factor in common-law relationships. The timeframe is defined by the state where you live. Tax registrations, bank account certificates, utility bills and hotel registrations are different forms of proof of your common-law relationship. These forms will be important pieces of evidence if you have to go to court. But if you do not have any joint accounts or utility bills, and your state does not recognize common-law relationships, consider seeking a mediator to help you decide property divisions, financial support and custody issues.

What should we include in our mediated separation agreement if we are not married?

You can include how to divide your property, debt issues and financial obligations. You can also seek professional assistance in regards to tax issues.

Gay/Lesbian Issues

How does my being gay affect settlement?

Your being gay or lesbian will not affect your settlement if you are going to use mediation because you and your partner will make the decisions. However, in litigation, your settlement will depend on the state laws.

Does my plan of living with my gay partner affect my custody and visitation rights?

A mediator can help with custody and visitation rights.


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