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blog home Same-Sex Family Law Williams Institute Establishes Patterns of Relationship Recognition by Same-Sex Couples

Williams Institute Establishes Patterns of Relationship Recognition by Same-Sex Couples

By Sheryl Rentz on November 16, 2011

The University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA)-based Williams Institute is a “national think tank” committed to advancing sexual orientation and gender identity law and public policy through research. This month, The Williams Institute released its most recent study, Patterns of Relationship Recognition by Same-Sex Couples in the United States.

According to the study, since 1997, 19 states and the District of Columbia have established laws extending legal relationship recognition to same-sex couples, either by state-registered domestic partnerships, marriages, civil unions, or limited-rights statuses. Currently, Pennsylvania does not legally recognize any same-sex relationship. A legally recognized relationship involves different rights and responsibilities. An analysis of same-sex couples who have entered into legally recognized relationships in the U.S. draws various conclusions:

  • About 134,000 same-sex couples are now in a legally recognized relationship.
  • 22 percent of all same-sex couples, if possible, formalized their relationship.
  • Dissolution, or divorce rates, of same-sex couples are slightly lower than those of heterosexual couples.
  • Women are more likely than men to enter into a legally recognized same-sex relationship.
  • Same-sex couples prefer marriage to other legally recognized alternatives like domestic partnerships or civil unions.
  • Six states and the District of Columbia allow same-sex marriage. Most of the couples that marry in these six states are from other states.

Pennsylvania does not legally recognize same-sex domestic partnerships and, as such, there are no laws governing what happens if a same-sex couple decides to separate. Even if the relationship is not legally recognized, a same-sex couple may face the same issues a married couple might, such as division of property and child custody and visitation. If you are currently in a relationship with a domestic partner, the Montgomery County domestic partnership property rights attorney Sheryl R. Rentz can help you and your partner come to an agreement that delineates what happens to property and how other issues should be handled in the event of a separation. It doesn’t hurt to be prepared. For a consultation, call (866) 290-9292.

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