Same-Sex Partners and Family Law: Navigating Marriage Portability, Asset Division, Support and Custody

Recording of a 90-minute CLE webinar with Q&A

This program is included with the Strafford CLE Pass. Click for more information.
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Conducted on Thursday, June 5, 2014

Recorded event now available

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Course Materials

This CLE course will prepare family law counsel for managing legal challenges facing same-sex partners, particularly with a growing number of states overturning same-sex marriage bans.


After the Supreme Court struck down DOMA in 2013, same-sex couples became immediately entitled to recognition for federal employment benefits and income and estate taxation. Seventeen states, D.C. and the federal government are on board, four states have some recognition of civil unions, and many other states are considering or facing litigation to change their laws banning such unions.

In Feb. and Mar. 2014 alone, Florida, Colorado, Virginia, Indiana, Wisconsin, Wyoming and Arizona face new legal challenges of same-sex marriage bans, and a Tennessee federal judge issued a preliminary injunction against that state’s law. A Utah federal court ruled the state’s same-sex marriage ban unconstitutional. Cases are pending in all but eight of the 33 states that ban same-sex unions.

Same-sex couples face a host of unique legal challenges, given the uncertainty and lack of uniformity among state laws in recognizing the validity of same-sex marriages or dissolutions. Family law advisors must understand how to address property division, power of attorney, insurance coverage and parentage issues, including child custody and support for same-sex couples.

Counsel must also handle agreements during the relationship and separation agreements, as well as same-sex partner divorce litigation. Custody, in the context of “second parent adoption” and reproductive assistance technologies, and resolution of custody between the parties are also key areas of concern.

Listen as our authoritative panel of family law practitioners examines approaches to assist same-sex clients in drafting key documents, creatively applying existing law, and addressing marriage, dissolution and custodial complexities in an ever-changing legal landscape.



  1. Portability of marriage
  2. Agreements entered by parties during the relationship
  3. Separation agreements
  4. Divorce
  5. Property division
  6. Adoption issues
  7. Custodial issues
  8. Support of former partner and support of children
  9. Negotiating and drafting considerations


The panel will review these and other key questions:

  • How can counsel apply existing laws to same-sex issues in family law?
  • What best practices should counsel consider in handling custody issues in the context of “second parent adoption” and reproductive assistance technologies, and disputes as to which parent will receive custody in the event of dissolution?
  • What approaches should practitioners consider in drafting agreements during relationships and separation agreements?

Following the speaker presentations, you'll have an opportunity to get answers to your specific questions during the interactive Q&A.


Randall M. Kessler
Randall M. Kessler

Founding Partner
Kessler & Solomiany

Mr. Kessler has over 20 years of experience in domestic relations and family law matters including divorce,...  |  Read More

Allison Mendel
Allison Mendel

Mendel & Associates

Ms. Mendel's practice focuses on family law, civil rights, and appellate matters in both state and federal courts....  |  Read More

Cathy Sakimura
Cathy Sakimura

Staff Attorney & Family Protection Project Director
National Center for Lesbian Rights

Ms. Sakimura is the Director of the Family Protection Project at the National Center for Lesbian Rights. The...  |  Read More

Michele Zavos
Michele Zavos

Zavos Juncker Law Group

With over 30 years of experience, Ms. Zavos' practice is particularly focused on developing legal protections for...  |  Read More

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