It is no secret that marriage brings financial as well as emotional benefits. With the passage of same-sex marriage laws in many states, same-sex couples that are unmarried may want to consider getting married for financial reasons.
As a legal challenge to Michigan's ban on same-sex marriage works through the courts, it is unclear how long Michigan's ban will last. If and when same-sex marriage becomes legal in Michigan, many gay couples will want to consider it, not only for love but for sound financial reasons. But even if same-sex marriage remains illegal in Michigan, there is a strong possibility that other laws will be enacted to provide some financial benefits to same-sex couples.
If same-sex marriage becomes legal in Michigan, older same-sex couples would stand to benefit from getting married because there is a greater opportunity to accumulate tax-sheltered funds in retirement accounts. Married couples also benefit from higher social security benefits. There is an income tax marriage penalty, of course, but that only affects very high-income couples.
With same-sex marriages being legalized in many states, these couples will face many of the same issues that heterosexual couples face when they split up. Child support, property division, visitation, and child custody are all issues that can affect a same-sex married couple who divorce. Keeping abreast of the applicable law as it relates to same-sex unmarried couples is important to protect one's rights if in this type of relationship. An experienced family law attorney can help a couple evaluate their options.
Source: Bloomberg.com, "Advice to Gay Couples Nearing Retirement: Get Married," Yalman Onaran, June 25, 2014