Domestic Partner Agreements / Separation Lawyers in East Lansing, Michigan
Same-sex marriages: On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court held in a 5–4 decision that the Fourteenth Amendment requires all states to grant same-sex marriages and recognize same-sex marriages granted in other states. As a result of this ruling, everyone is treated equally with respect to marriage and divorce; therefore, it a same-sex couple intend to marry, there is no need for a Domestic Partnership Agreement.
Domestic Partner Agreements (DPA): Domestic Partners are couples who decide to enter a long-term relationship without marrying, and may want to consider a DPA in order to protect their property rights both as individuals and as a couple. A DPA is a contract that protects the rights and sets forth the responsibilities of the parties in the event of a later separation. Even if a couple intended that each party would own 50% of whatever property they acquired during their relationship, regardless of who paid for it, the Court may not be able to enforce that intention without a valid DPA.
Separation: If Domestic Partners separate and have an appropriate DPA, then the DPA should determine how the couple’s property will be distributed, and whether either party is responsible for providing support to the other. In the event there is no DPA, then the Court must determine whether the parties entered into an enforceable oral contract regarding property or whether the Court has authority to determine property issues based upon equitable principles such as Detrimental Reliance or Unjust Enrichment..
Custody: In Michigan, the Court has jurisdiction of all custody disputes regardless of the marital status of the parties. There is a statutory presumption that a child born during the marriage is a child of both parties; therefore, a child born to a same-sex married couple is a child of both parties, and the Court has jurisdiction to determine the issues of custody, parenting time, and child support in the event of a divorce. There is no such presumption regarding a child born to any unmarried couple; therefore, unmarried couples should consult with an attorney in to protect their parental rights in the event of a future separation.
It is essential that Domestic Partners, who commit to each other, intend to reside with each other, or have or intend to have children, seek the advice of a competent and experienced attorney in order to understand and protect their rights.