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New York Family Law Blog

Couples going through same-sex divorce face different obstacles

Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act in 2015, an estimated 491,000 same-sex couples have married. Unfortunately, these marriages are just as likely to end in divorce if the relationship sours. In spite of the legality of gay marriages, New York residents who choose to file for a same-sex divorce may face obstacles that do not apply to heterosexual marriages.

One of the first considerations for a same-sex couple seeking a divorce is the current legal status of their relationship. Before the 2015 ruling, many couples filed for a domestic partnership. Once same-sex marriage was legalized, many states converted these partnerships to marriages. However, even though New York legally recognized these marriages before the 2015 decision, if a couple married in another state, they may need to go through another step before their marriage can be dissolved. 

Life is unpredictable; having an estate plan eases minds

Life is unpredictable. In spite of taking precautions and avoiding risky behaviors, anything can happen, and loved ones may be left to pick up the pieces. New York residents who have an estate plan can help ease some of the burdens on their loved ones.

Tragedy can happen with no warning. The most mundane and ordinary events can end in unexpected ways that could forever alter one's life. If an accident results in incapacitating injuries or even death, then having a plan can benefit survivors. A simple evening out with friends could have a horrific ending if another party takes a wrong turn or otherwise engages in negligent or dangerous behaviors.

Estate planning is yet another financial concern for LGBT couples

Winning the right to marry was only the beginning of the journey that many same-sex couples have taken in recent years. The rest of the world still works on the designs created for heterosexual couples as evidenced by the issues that LGBT couples encounter when they divorce.

The financial world is another place where same-sex couples continue to encounter challenges. When planning your financial lives, you and your spouse still need to carefully craft your estate plans in order to ensure that each of you receives the appropriate protections after the other's death.

Investors can take action to help reduce risk of EB-5 fraud

There are countless foreign nationals who dream of obtaining a green card and beginning a new life here in New York or elsewhere in the United States. One popular avenue for seeking this opportunity is through the EB-5 visa. Though this program has had its share of allegations regarding EB-5 fraud, investors can take measures that reduces this risk.

Every investment comes with a certain amount of risk. However, when one is investing significant funds and the dreams of a lifetime, the fear of fraud becomes a serious consideration. Foreign investors are encouraged to thoroughly research both the potential project and all of the principals involved. The first step is ensuring an investment project is part of a Regional Center that receives regular oversight and not just approval from federal agencies appointed to safeguard the rights of investors and immigrants.

Alarming decision permits discrimination of same-sex adoptions

In 2014, a retail corporation protested a requirement regarding prescription coverage for employees. This protest claimed that religious freedom was being violated, leading to the U.S. Supreme Court to expand upon the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, which grants corporations and individuals the right to refuse to abide by certain provisions if they are a violation of religious beliefs and tenets. This previous exception has now led to concerns that the rights of same-sex parents and others could be impacted in other states, including New York.

The fear of wide-spread discrimination stems from the decision to permit a foster care agency to refuse to accept clients who do not follow Christian beliefs. This decision was startling since the agency accepts federal funding. However, when the agency, Miracle Hill Ministries, refused to accept applications from non-Christian and same-sex parents, it violated the Health and Human Services mandates concerning discrimination. The state's Department of Social Services warned the agency that it could lose funding if it persists in discriminating applicants.

Judge confirms man's mental capacity; ends estate litigation

When one takes the time to establish estate plans, it is likely not anticipated that there will be any challenges -- especially before his or her demise. Unfortunately, there may be attempts on the part of disgruntled heirs to initiate estate litigation. New York residents who are concerned about such challenges may take steps to ensure their wishes are upheld.

Recently, a judge ruled in favor of one man's estate plans by confirming his mental capacity. Purportedly, 95-year-old Sumner Redstone, who owns the majority share of National Theater Amusements and is a major shareholder of CBS Corporation and Viacom, amended a trust that he established in 2003. His former girlfriend challenged those changes that directly affected her. She claimed that Redstone lacked the mental clarity to make such changes or to make decisions regarding his businesses.

There are financial advantages for same-sex couples who marry

Once same-sex marriage was legalized in 2015, it opened the door for gay couples to have the same advantages available to opposite-sex spouses. Though there are many personal reasons to marry, same-sex couples may also take the financial aspects into account when considering formalizing their relationship status. Though every state, including New York, has its own laws, there are many advantages available to married couples

One of the first advantages is the ability to give monetary or property gifts to one's spouse without concern over the federal laws regarding taxable gift amounts. Before the law was changed, any gift over the $15,000 was subjected to the gift tax. In addition, married same-sex couples now can choose to receive their deceased spouse's higher Social Security benefit amounts if they exceed the amount that one would receive based on their own earnings.

Custody matters have different challenges for same-sex couples

When you married your partner, you decided to start a family. While the relationship was good, you may not have considered the challenges that same-sex couples encounter when it comes to legal parentage.

Now that your relationship has taken a turn for the worst and you find yourself facing divorce, this issue has probably come to the forefront. Below are some issues you need to consider when it comes to child custody as a same-sex parent, especially since child custody laws across the country, including here in New York, continue to struggle to catch up when it comes to your divorce.

Investors alleging EB-5 fraud; seeking funds via federal lawsuit

The EB-5 visa program is classified as a type of employment-based visa that allows foreign investors an opportunity to secure a visa and then permanent residency. Though this visa has supported many successful projects here in New York, it has its share of critics. Many of these opponents state that examples of EB-5 fraud have tainted the visa program. 

Recently, 65 foreign investors sought reimbursement of their funding through the filing of a lawsuit in federal court. The judge in this case sent back several questions that need to be clarified by the state Supreme Court where the project is located. The judge stated that there is currently no set precedent for whether individual guarantors of a development company's loan can be named individually as being responsible for repayment of investments.

Estate planning cohesiveness essential to fully meet one's needs

Many people may think that estate plans typically consist of setting up trusts and drafting wills. However, there are many aspects of estate planning that should be carefully considered. New York residents who are contemplating tackling this vital task may be uncertain which documents they will need in order to provide a comprehensive estate plan.

One of the first tasks is to ensure that the main components of a plan -- which typically include revocable living trusts, wills, an advanced health care directive and a power of attorney --all form a cohesive plan. In many cases, a person may select different individuals to fulfill the roles of trustee and agent. In practice, a trustee manages the trust and the assets incorporated into it. The agent is the individual responsible for handling the personal finances and other daily affairs for an individual who may be incapacitated. However, there may also be another individual who will oversee the medical care of the grantor, including obtaining documentation from a physician, stating that he or she is legally incapacitated.