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Domestic Partnership News Archive
March  01 - March 06, 2002




This page contains news for the period March 01, 2002 through March 06, 2002.




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Wednesday, March 6, 2002

British Royal marines won’t follow British army’s lead on unmarried soldiers barracks policy


A story released today by Express & Echo reports that the British Royal Marines will miss out on a military rule change which allows unmarried soldiers to spend the night with their girlfriends at their barracks.

Navy chiefs confirmed today they were not planning to follow the lead of Army colleagues who have relaxed rules to allow girlfriends to stay at some Army barracks. The first base to relax its rules has already created a 'welfare house' where the partners of single personnel can stay overnight.

The Army has also revealed a proposal to build barracks with a more relaxed, university campus atmosphere in the future. Other reforms are being carried out to allow soldiers to live outside bases.

But the Royal Navy - the branch of the armed services responsible for the Royal Marines - says it has no plans for a similarly radical scheme.

The spokesman said: "There are no plans to bring in this system for the Royal Marines. There are regulations in place which cover the issue."

"At a training base it is not considered suitable to have such a system." said the marine spokesman.

"We will have to wait and see what the Army decides to do if this is successful."

"They are a separate service and it is up to them to decide whether to continue this."

He added that the idea was being tested out for the first time at a non-training base of the 600-strong Light Dragoons in Norfolk.


Friday, March 1, 2002

Protecting your nontraditional relationship

A story published today by the Boston Business Journal reports that contrary to popular belief, estate planning is not just for married couples with lots of jointly owned property and children.

Domestic partners, although not legally hitched, can still own property and lots of other assets together, share parenting responsibilities and carry around as much emotional baggage as any married couple. They also need to plan their estates and futures too, say experts. In fact, any nontraditional family should be thinking about estate planning and the unique challenges it presents them.

"There are tremendous legal implications that are dramatically different for traditional married couples and for domestic partners and other nontraditional families," said Brian Gerhardson, a financial and estate planner at American Express Financial Consulting in Boston.

Take taxation, for example. Legally married couples can transfer unlimited wealth to each other during their lifetimes and at death with no estate tax, income tax or gift tax implications. Unmarried people are limited to giving no more than $11,000 per year to another person without paying gift taxes. They can transfer only up to $1 million at death to a nonspouse. Anything over that amount is subject to estate taxes.

"A good estate-planning attorney can help gay couples and other nontraditional families design an estate plan and legal documents that can eliminate or reduce these tax burdens," Gerhardson said.

Property ownership is another area where gay couples can face a disadvantage if they don't know the law. There are three ways for people to own property jointly. The first is known as "tenants by the entirety". This form of joint ownership, however, is reserved for legally married couples. People not legally married can jointly own property as "tenants in common," which means if one dies that person's share of the house goes to his or her heirs or closest living relative if there is no will. The third way for unmarried people to own property jointly is through "joint tenancy with right of survival," which works the same way as tenants in common -- the surviving owner gets the entire house without needing a will or having to go to court.

Children also present challenges for domestic partners, although the issues are not too different than for married couples. The rules for custodial accounts, for example, are the same for both married and unmarried parents: Only one parent's name can go on the account. Custody is more of an issue for same-sex couples since only one can be the child's birth parent. For the nonbirth parent, second-parent adoption is one way of securing custody rights to a child. A second-parent adoption is possible, however, only if the child has one living birth parent (the other is dead, has relinquished his or her parental rights or if the child was conceived by artificial insemination).

Nonbirth parents can also assert custody of a child as a de facto parent. But to do this, the de facto parent must prove in court that he or she has taken on the responsibilities of a parent -- a difficult, expensive process.

Other estate-planning issues with different implications for nontraditional families are 401(k) and other retirement plans, property-casualty insurance and privacy issues. Estate planning is important for nontraditional families, not only to secure their futures, but also to protect their rights in case of a separation.

"If you're married, the courts have parameters to protect and give guidance to the separating parties," said Cary Quigley of Boston, who mediates same-sex dissolutions. "Gay couples don't have courts to guide them on how to divide their assets."

Quigley recommends that any couple living together and not legally married writes an agreement "setting out the parameters of anything they think needs parameters."

"It doesn't have to address what happens if they separate," she said. "It could be a mission statement."


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Finland legalizes domestic partnerships


A story released today by Ananova reports that same-sex partnerships have become legally binding in Finland. The new law, however, does not allow same-sex couples to adopt children or use the same surname.

The legislation says couples who are at least 18 can register a same-sex union in a civil ceremony comparable to marriage. The same law also gives couples the same rights as married heterosexual couples when inheriting each other's property and in cases of divorce.

The Finnish Lesbian and Gay Association welcomed the law but said it does not go far enough.

"It's a milestone in Finnish legislation and has great symbolic significance. But it's a compromise and does not give gay couples exactly the same rights as married couples." said Rainer Hiltunen, secretary-general of the Finnish Lesbian and Gay Association.

The new law also does not address the rights of children in gay partnerships but a government working group is looking into the issue, Mr. Hiltunen said.




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