Following the request of a state legislator, Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott issued an opinion regarding municipalities that offer benefits to same-sex domestic partners. In his decision, Abbott said the inclusion of same-sex couples in city, county or school district benefit programs violates the state constitution.
In 2005, Texans voted to ban same-sex marriage and similar legal entities with a constitutional amendment. Despite this decision, certain local entities have extended domestic partnership benefits, including the city of Austin and the local school district. Now, these benefits could be in jeopardy.
Sharing benefits id just one among many concerns for same-sex couples living in Texas. Even though couples may share a home and assets, they do not have many of the legal tools available to opposite-sex married couples. Not only does this create complications for couples while they’re together, it can also lead to problems if same-sex partners decide to split up.
Families in this situation can take some steps to make sure they aren’t completely without legal options. One way to do this is by forming a domestic partnership agreement. This legal contract can help split up certain assets and property in the event same-sex couples decide to end their relationship.
One benefit that local government entities may choose to offer that may be impacted by family law are life insurance policies. This is an asset that can be included in a divorce settlement, but the attorney general’s most recent ruling may impact such policies benefitting same-sex partners. Knowing this, it may be important for couples with a domestic partnership agreement to see if any forthcoming changes in Austin’s benefit policies will impact them.
Source: The Austin Chronicle, “Abbott: Domestic Partner Benefits Unconstitutional,” Brandon Austin, April 30, 2013