A recent policy change by U.S. Customs and Border Protection offers optimism for both Texas and the nation. Effective Jan. 12, the agency’s definition of ‘family” expands to encompass ‘same-sex couple.” This move is designed to allow more Americans coming home as well as foreign visitors to jointly declare commodities from overseas.
Besides parties to domestic partnership agreements, the new rule makes it easier for unconventional couples to travel together with children when only one has sole custody of them. The USCBP is not the first federal agency to make a laudable gesture of tolerance. Internal Revenue Service regulations have been amended to allow same-sex couples who wed in jurisdictions that recognize their unions to file joint tax returns regardless of state residency.
Not to be outdone, however, USCBP has gone much further by defining a ‘family” as any committed relationship involving long-term companionship that includes civil unions and domestic partnerships wherein monetary assets and liabilities are shared. This is provided that neither party is married to or the partner of another party outside the primary union.
These policy alterations may signify positive paradigm shifts to broaden social horizons. Nevertheless, jurisprudential landscapes like equitable property division and child custody in same-sex separation are primarily unchartered territory. An experienced family law attorney may be the best resource for accurate advice to prevent and resolve disputes over such legal issues. A professional with knowledge of domestic relations, statutory provisions and judicial rulings may be able to sort through new twists on family domestic issues to identify the most likely interpretation and application of existing law to emergent social phenomena.
Source: dallasvoice.com, “U.S. Customs taking broader view of families than most other agencies”, December 16, 2013