Same-sex Parents

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There has been a lot of discussion recently in regards the recently proposed House Bill 623. This bill essentially proposes to allow Texas to circumvent federal court decisions in regards to declaring gay marriage bans unconstitutional. However, rather than continue the discussion of whether gay marriage should or should not be legal, this bill poses some interesting questions in regards to a state’s ability to circumvent the federal courts. The Texas attorney general has already appealed the previous federal court decision from February of last year to the 5th circuit courts, and oral arguments on that issue will be taking place imminently. However, this bill appears to be proposed as a legislative mechanism to avoid the courts entirely. The strangest thing about this to me is that it is being proposed BEFORE the judicial avenues have been exhausted, which makes little sense, as it could be rendered effectively moot by a favorable outcome in the 5th circuit courts by the attorney general. As an attorney, from a procedural standpoint, this is a fairly troubling issue as the intent is clearly to strip power from the judiciary. Though the chances of success may be low, the intent is still there and still bothersome regardless. The methodology of this attack seems to hurt its own legitimacy as well, as the attack is based on protecting state sovereignty over the issue of marriage, however it is ignoring the legitimacy of the judiciary. The point of protecting state sovereignty I can completely get behind, however the better mechanism of doing this is through the courts, exactly as the attorney general is doing. Trying to protect sovereign powers by ignoring others is an inherently flawed plan, and only serves to give ammunition to those who choose to disrespect Texas as a whole. Perhaps this bill is […]

Gay Marriage and State Sovereignty

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Since same sex marriages have been made legal by the Supreme Court, same sex divorces are now possible as well. People are still confused because not all states had acknowledged that same sex marriages were legal prior to 2015 and many are still wondering if it’s possible to have a same-sex marriage in Texas and how the state deals with same sex divorces. Texas was one of the states in the US that did not legalize same sex marriages prior to 2015. Because of this, if you have lived in Texas prior to 2015 and you’ve tried to get a same sex divorce, the courts couldn’t have done anything to help you. Since same sex marriages were not recognized in the entire state until 2015, it goes without saying that same sex divorces were also impossible within the state during that period. Of course, after that Supreme court decision legalizing same sex marriages in 50 states, a lot of things have changed. Same Sex Divorces VS Traditional divorces After the Supreme Court has announced its decision, the laws that apply to traditional marriages now apply to same sex marriages. With this said, laws on traditional divorces can now be applied to same sex divorces in Texas. If you already know about the community property laws in Texas and how it’s divided during a divorce, you can now apply that to same sex divorces too. Division of property, assets, and debts will be divided in same sex divorces the same way it is divided in traditional divorces. If you are not familiar how community property is dealt with during a divorce, it’s basically this: Any type of income or property incurred during the course of the marriage will be subject to division once the divorce commences. This includes wages and income […]

Everything You Need to Know About Same Sex Divorces in Texas

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The year is 2019. Everything has changed even the genders assigned at birth. Today, the existence of lesbians (a homosexual woman) and gays (a homosexual man) are widely recognized. In the same vein, there are also transsexuals who have a gender identity different from their assigned sex, and undergo medical assistance to transition themselves to the gender in which they identify. In the leading case of Obergefell vs. Hodges decided in 2015, the United States Supreme Court held that same-sex marriage is now allowed in all 50 states of the USA on the ground that it is protected under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clause. Consequently, bans on same-sex marriage by conservative states are declared unconstitutional. This is a landmark decision because finally, after decades of fighting for equality, the world now acknowledges the fundamental right to marry of the LGBT (lesbians, gays, bisexuals, Transgenders) community. Another particular right that transsexuals can invoke is their right to change their gender marker. This means that state and government agencies can legally change their listed gender in official documents such as a birth certificate. The procedure varies from state to state. In Texas, a gender marker change is legal in any county, provided that the applicant complies with the requirements. The legal effect is that it shall be recognized in the entire state of Texas. Documents and Forms Needed First off, he/she needs to fill out two forms, namely: Petition To Change the Sex and Gender Identifier of An Adult, and Final Order To Change The Sex and Gender Identifier of the Adult (Order). The former is a pleading to the judge to order agencies for the change in official documents, and the latter is signed by the judge to make the official order. These forms are filed with his/her fingerprints […]

Gender Marker Change in the State of Texas

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Two days ago, Travis County Probate Judge Guy Herman ruled the state’s ban on same-sex marriage as unconstitutional as part of an estate dispute. Because the state does not recognize same-sex marriages, the marriage of Stella Powell and Sonemaly Phrasavath was not recognized and her estate passed to her siblings instead of her wife of 8 years.   Today, the first same-sex marriage license was issued this morning to 31-year couple, Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant who were then married in a ceremony outside of the Clerk’s office.   Judge David Wahlberg of the 167th District court issued an order to County Clerk Dana DeBeauvoir ordering her to, “cease and desist relying on the unconstitutional Texas prohibitions against same-sex marriage as a basis for not issuing a marriage license specifically to Plaintiffs Sarah Goodfriend and Suzanne Bryant.” The ruling was made based on medical issues, as Sarah Goodfriend suffers from ovarian cancer.   Because the County Clerk is complying with the specific court order, same-sex marriage licenses are not being generally issued in Travis County.   Going forward, it will be interesting to see how the legality of same-sex marriage unfolds here in Texas.   Source:  

First Gay Marriage License Issued in Travis County

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The rights of a gay partner to participate in, and more importantly, have court ordered rights to, parenting her former partner’s child will be set for trial in the 302nd Judicial District Court of Dallas County, Texas. After the Texas Supreme Court declined to hear the biological parent’s appeal challenging the partner’s right to sue for access to the child, the Dallas Court of Appeals returned the case to the trial court. [See Dallas Court of Appeals cause number 05-08-00568-CV, In re M.K.S.-V., 301 S.W.3d 460 (Tex. App. — Dallas 2009, pet. denied), opinion attached.] Kristie Vowels and Tracy Scourfield were together for more than four years and decided to have a child together, conceived by Scourfield through artificial insemination. A year after the birth of the child, they broke up and Scourfield moved out of Vowels’ home along with the child. Vowels continued to have contact with the child by agreement on a schedule similar to that of divorced heterosexual parents. Following a disagreement between Scourfield and Vowels, Scourfield denied Vowels access to the child, resulting in Vowels filing suit for court-ordered access to the child. A three-judge panel of the Dallas Court of Appeal issued a controversial ruling in December 2009 that Vowels had the right to seek access to the child based on a law that provides a person with the right to sue for such rights after she has had actual care, control and possession of the child for at least 90-days prior to filing the suit. Vowels’ access by agreement with Scourfield was deemed to be sufficient to meet the requirements of the statute. Scourfield sought to have the Texas Supreme Court overturn the decision of the Dallas Court of Appeals. The Texas Supreme Court declined to hear the case on May 28, 2010. Scourfield had a certain time-frame following […]

Gay Parent Rights Heading to Trial

In 2015, the US Supreme Court declared same-sex marriages as legal in every US State. So, yes, you can get married with someone of the same sex. You can start a family and you are also entitled to divorce should it not work out. How to get married in Texas? First, you have to secure a marriage license from the county clerk’s office. You will be asked to complete a sworn application showing that you and your partner have the legal capacity to marry. If one or both of you are under 18 years of age, parental consent or court order is required. Each of the contracting party must not have any legal impediment that will disqualify him or her to get married such as the existence of a subsisting marriage, if the parties who wish to marry are relatives within the fourth degree (first cousins or closer), and other disqualifications enumerated by law. Ask a lawyer to find out if you have any of these disqualifications so as not to waste time and effort. Usually, you have to wait for 3 days to get the said license which is valid within 31 days from the date of issue. If you do not get married within this period of time, you will have to apply for a marriage license again. You cannot get married if the marriage license has already expired. Marriages need to be solemnized and a member of the judiciary or any authorized religious minister can officiate weddings. You will have to present the marriage license issued to you by the county clerk before a wedding can take place. If you decide to get married outside of Texas, the state of Texas will still recognize your marriage. Can same-sex couples enter into a Common-Law Marriage? Definitely! Texas is […]

Same-sex Marriage in Texas

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Same-sex marriage has only been legalized quite recently. If you are already married or you are wanting to marry and want to have children, that is not a problem. There are many same-sex couples who are very successful in parenting. There are many scenarios which could be at play here. It is possible that one or both of you already has a child or have children as the case may be. It is best to consult with a lawyer so you can make sure that you can make custody and support work without any problems in the future. Usually, same-sex couples do not have children before they entered into marriage with each other. In this case, adoption is the common course of action. Before, same-sex couples were required to adopt as two single people jointly adopting the same child and not as a couple. That means that one will go through the adoption first and complete the process and then after a period of six months, the other will go through the same adoption process. Under the revised rules of procedure, same-sex couples can now adopt jointly provided that they are married with each other. The process is now simpler. Jointly adopting is very important so that each parent will have the same rights and responsibilities towards the child. It is to protect your relationship with your child. The entire adoption process will have to take months. For how many months exactly? That we do not know. It will depend on the circumstances. The FBI will also have to background check the parents— biological and non-biological. Everything about you and your partner will be assessed. That includes your education, employment, financial situation, home environment, family history, and even health. The state of Texas requires prospective parents to participate in home […]

Same-sex Couples: Children and Adoption

  When will you need a surrogacy agreement?   If you and your spouse are considering surrogacy, there are a lot of legalities you will have to prepare for. It is best to arm yourself with enough information to prepare yourself for your plans.   Surrogacy involves a surrogate – a woman who carries a child for a couple who are not able to bear the child themselves. Same-sex marriages have become common nowadays and have been steadily on the rise since its legalization across the United States. This means that there is also a surge in demand for surrogacy, which is in addition to the existing demands from traditional marriages.   Many people believe that children make a marriage complete. There are also people who get married because they want to have children and start their own family. There are many situations which can hinder the child-filled dreams of many couples. A lot of them turn to adoption, but those who long for a child that is biologically their own would rather turn to surrogates. Even when a couple can’t conceive due to various reasons, their dreams of having their own family can still be fulfilled through surrogacy.   If you are seriously considering surrogacy for your family, you will need to come up with a surrogacy agreement.       Requirements for Surrogacy Agreements in Texas     Just like in most areas of law, a surrogacy agreement cannot be completed unless you comply with the requirements. In case you did not know, Texas is actually one of the first states that started implementing laws related to surrogacy.  When it comes to surrogacy, the state of Texas strictly implement laws to regulate the relationship between the surrogate and the parents. One of the terms of these Texas law […]

The Basics Of Surrogacy Agreements