Dennis G. Collard on Gay Marriage
- Can gay couples be married in Georgia?
- If I was married in another state, can I be divorced in Georgia?
- Are domestic partnerships legal in Georgia?
- Do employers or local governments in Georgia provide domestic partner benefits?
- Can gay people adopt children in Georgia?
- If gay people cannot get married in Georgia, is there some other way to form a legal relationship with your partner?
- If I have a child with my partner and we both have custody rights, will the Georgia courts hear our case if our relationship is ending?
- Can an attorney help me if I am ending a long term gay relationship?
- Are gay people discriminated against or treated badly in the Court system in Georgia?
- If I have questions about my legal rights or think I need an attorney, how do I contact the firm?
Can gay couples be married in Georgia?
No, a constitutional amendment was enacted that prohibits gay marriage in Georgia.
Georgia law (as of March 2008) is as follows: (a) It is declared to be the public policy of this state to recognize the union only of man and woman. Marriages between persons of the same sex are prohibited in this state. (b) No marriage between persons of the same sex shall be recognized as entitled to the benefits of marriage. Any marriage entered into by persons of the same sex pursuant to a marriage license issued by another state or foreign jurisdiction or otherwise shall be void in this state. Any contractual rights granted by virtue of such license shall be unenforceable in the courts of this state and the courts of this state shall have no jurisdiction whatsoever under any circumstances to grant a divorce or separate maintenance with respect to such marriage or otherwise to consider or rule on any of the parties' respective rights arising as a result of or in connection with such marriage.
If I was married in another state, can I be divorced in Georgia?
No, not at this time, but see FAQ below regarding child custody.
Are domestic partnerships legal in Georgia?
No, the same constitutional amendment that prohibits gay marriage also prohibits gay couples from entering government recognized domestic partnerships.
Do employers or local governments in Georgia provide domestic partner benefits?
Yes, many employers [such as Delta Airlines] and some local governments [such as the City of Atlanta] do provide domestic partner benefits, such as insurance coverage. These benefits have been upheld by the Courts.
Can gay people adopt children in Georgia?
In Georgia, adoption remains at the discretion of Superior Court judges, but there is no legal prohibition on gay people adopting children simply because they are gay.
If gay people cannot get married in Georgia, is there some other way to form a legal relationship with your partner?
Yes, gay people may form relationships that are in some ways similar to marriage, such as owning property jointly, holding investment and retirement accounts jointly, and executing “reciprocal” wills, durable powers of attorney, powers of attorney for health care, health care surrogacies and living wills. Gay people can also enter contracts with each other that, if found legally sufficient, can govern the division of their property in the event that the relationship ends.
If I have a child with my partner and we both have custody rights, will the Georgia courts hear our case if our relationship is ending?
Yes, gay or straight, the Courts in Georgia will hear all issues of custody as between parents regardless of sexual orientation. Georgia Courts will also hear cases in which a gay person lives in the State with his or her child, but the other parent resides in another state, whether that other parent is gay or heterosexual.
Can an attorney help me if I am ending a long term gay relationship?
Yes, family law attorneys in Georgia, including Kessler, Schwarz & Solomiany, P.C., represent gay people going through difficult break ups. Even though the Courts cannot offer traditional assistance as they do with divorcing heterosexual people, gay people may have legal rights due to their ownership of property together, having children together, or voluntarily granting each other legal rights such as through a Power of Attorney. Our firm is also skilled at negotiation, mediation and arbitration, and several of our attorneys are certified in collaborative law, all of which may allow us to help you resolve your legal issues with little or no litigation.
Are gay people discriminated against or treated badly in the Court system in Georgia?
Our experience has been that gay people are treated with the same respect and sensitivity that heterosexual people are in the Georgia courts, although their legal rights are different from those of divorcing heterosexual couples.
If I have questions about my legal rights or think I need an attorney, how do I contact the firm?
Our main telephone number is 404-688-8810. Our receptionist, office manager or any paralegal will be happy to schedule a consultation with one of our attorneys. A one hour consultation with a lawyer is $250.00 [consultations with Mr. Kessler, however, are $450.00 or $350.00 with any other partner].