Same Gender Unions in Massachusetts

Same gender marriage is legal in the Commonwealth of Massachusetts. There are still legal issues to settle, so make sure you are informed about your rights and responsibilities.  Below are answers to a few common questions about same gender marriage in Massachusetts.

This website is intended to provide general information only and can not provide guidance or legal advice as to any specific situation. The law is constantly changing and this website is based upon the information that is known to us as of our last update; therefore, some of the information may not be entirely up-to-date. For guidance on your particular situation, you must consult a lawyer.  Do not not act independently on the information presented here; providing this information is not meant to create an attorney-client relationship.

Here are websites that may offer more details on marriage and marriage law in Massachusetts:
http://www.lawlib.state.ma.us/subject/about/gaymarriage.html
http://www.glad.org/current/item/after-doma-guide-for-same-sex-couples
http://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/same-sex-marriage-laws.aspx

FAQs on Same Gender Marriage

Do we need a marriage license?
What’s the age requirement?
Is a medical certificate required?
If we already got married in another state, will Massachusetts recognize our relationship?
If we are married in Massachusetts, will we have the same legal rights and responsibilities as heterosexual couples?
Would we be entitled to file a joint Federal tax return?
If I get married in Massachusetts, can I sponsor my same gender spouse for a green card?
What happens if we decide to split up?

If we get married in Massachusetts, will that mean that my spouse automatically becomes the legal guardian of my children?

Do we need a marriage license?

Yes.  Both people must apply in person to any city or community clerk within the state.  There is a three-day waiting period between the date of the application and the date the license is issued.  Weekends and holidays are included in the three-day period, but the day the application is made is not.  (If you apply on Friday, the license will be issued on Monday.)

What’s the age requirement?

Both people must be at least 18.  You may be required to show a birth certificate as proof.

Is a medical certificate required?

No Medical Certificate is required.

If we already got married in another state, will Massachusetts recognize our relationship?

Yes, just as it would recognize opposite gender marriages from other states, Massachusetts will consider you married and treat you as such under state law.

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If we are married in Massachusetts, will we have the same legal rights and responsibilities as heterosexual couples?

It depends on whether your home state recognizes the marriage.

Would we be entitled to file a joint federal tax return?

Yes. For tax year 2013 and after, same-sex spouses generally must file using a married filing separately or jointly filing status. For more information on tax filings for same-sex married couples, visit http://www.irs.gov/uac/Answers-to-Frequently-Asked-Questions-for-Same-Sex-Married-Couples

If I get married in Massachusetts, can I sponsor my same gender spouse for a green card?

Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling striking down a core provision of the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), lesbian and gay Americans will now be eligible to apply for green cards on behalf of their foreign national spouses. The court ruled, in United States v. Windsor, that Section 3 of DOMA, which prohibited the federal government from conferring benefits to married same-sex couples, is unconstitutional. That provision of the law made it impossible for lesbian and gay couples to receive immigration benefits, including green cards. – See more at http://immigrationequality.org/2013/06/lesbian-gay-couples-eligible-for-green-cards-following-supreme-court-decision-on-defense-of-marriage-act/

What happens if we decide to split up?

The only legal way to get out of a marriage is to get a divorce.  Massachusetts has a one-year residency requirement to divorce in the state.  That means that at least one spouse must be a resident of the state for a year prior to the divorce. To make matters more complicated, the fact that your home state might not recognize your marriage or let you get a divorce doesn’t necessarily mean you get out of the legal obligations of marriage. Check the laws of the state in which you reside.

If we get married in Massachusetts, will that mean that my spouse automatically becomes the legal guardian of my children?

No. Even if you were to get married to a person of the opposite gender in the U.S., your spouse would not become legal guardian of your children until you get a “step-parent” adoption.

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Reminder:

This website is intended to provide general information only and can not provide guidance or legal advice as to any specific situation. The law is constantly changing and this website is based upon the information that is known to us as of our last update; therefore, some of the information may not be entirely up-to-date. For guidance on your particular situation, you must consult a lawyer.  Do not not act independently on the information presented here; providing this information is not meant to create an attorney-client relationship.

Here are websites that may offer more details on marriage and marriage law in Massachusetts:
http://www.lawlib.state.ma.us/subject/about/gaymarriage.html
http://www.glad.org/current/item/after-doma-guide-for-same-sex-couples
http://www.ncsl.org/research/human-services/same-sex-marriage-laws.aspx