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Lesser-known family law issues regarding domestic partnerships

In 2005, Texas voters approved an amendment to the state constitution that defined legal marriages throughout the state. "Marriage in this state shall consist only of the union of one man and one woman."

The language found in Article 1, Section 32 of the Texas Bill of Rights is very clear. However, a recent decision by the U.S. Supreme Court to allow lower court rulings on same-sex marriages to stand promises to further complicate family law issues for individuals involved in domestic partnerships.

Effectively, the U.S. Supreme Court's decision not to get involved in the issue of same-sex marriages means that those marriages will now be recognized throughout the Union in all but 20 states, including Texas. To be clear, Texas law still bans same-sex marriages.

Despite the state's unwillingness to accept same-sex marriages, the reality is that many same-sex couples who were legally married in other states have since moved to Texas and become citizens here. Some of those couples also have children. Regardless of state policies, many of the same family law issues that apply to married opposite-sex partners with children also occur among same-sex couples with children who are currently living in domestic partnerships.

Child custody and visitation issues still require legal resolution whenever same-sex domestic partnerships come to an end.

If you are a Texas resident engaged in a same-sex domestic partnership, you should know that Texas family courts are interested in preserving and promoting the best interests of your child regardless of your sexual orientation. Depending on the circumstances of your case, your attorney may be able to assist you with legal remedies to some of your family law issues.

Source: Texas State Constitution-Article 1 Bill of Rights, "Section 32-Marriage" Oct. 08, 2014

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