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Man fighting mother of same-sex marriage partner in court

Although same-sex marriages are legal and acknowledged in California, same-sex couples may want to be reminded of potential obstacles if they decide to relocate to a state where their marriage is not recognized. The protection of marital assets may prove difficult in such a state. In a current legal battle in another state where a same-sex marriage is not recognized, a spouse of such a union is challenging the mother of his deceased partner in matters relating to the deceased's estate. The couple got married in a state where such marriages are legal, but relocated, and that seems to have complicated the spouse receiving the assets to which he would have otherwise been legally entitled.

One of the men in the marital union died in an accident and his estate filed a wrongful death claim. The case is still pending, but the deceased's mother wants to ensure her son's partner receives none of the monetary funds resulting from that claim. According to the law in a state that does not recognize the marriage, all proceeds from such a claim will go to the next of kin of the deceased. His 75-year-old mother is his only parent still alive and, therefore, may be legally entitled to the money.

In describing the hurt and indignity he has suffered, the surviving spouse told the media that the hospital would not allow him to see his partner after the accident because it allowed only family. A hospital orderly informed him of the death of his partner. Furthermore, the death certificate states that the deceased individual was never married and this is another battle he is prepared to fight. He is of the opinion that the death certificate should be changed.

When a California couple in a same-sex marriage considers relocation, they may want first to establish what their legal status would be in another state. There may be other documents they can prepare to entitle each other to become legal heirs of each should one suffer an unexpected accident or illness, as was the case here. This could help provide a further layer of protection of their marital assets.

Source:, "Legal fight over dead gay man's estate: his mom, 75, vs. his husband", Greg Garrison, April 2, 2014

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