Wedding 101

The marriage-equality celebrations have continued in Philadelphia this week. But, there are plenty of questions. Let’s take a look at some of the most common issues same-sex couples are asking about.

What are the first things we need to do to get married?

Couples must first visit a county register of wills office (City Hall, Room 413 in Philadelphia) to apply for a marriage license. Both partners must be present and must bring photo ID and documentation of their Social Security numbers. Fees range but must be paid in cash or by money order.

What happens after we apply for a license?

Couples cannot marry until at least 72 hours after they apply for their license. The register of wills will provide applicants a list of local wedding officiants or couples can chose their own certified officiant to preside over a ceremony and sign the license. The completed license must be returned to the register of wills within 60 days of its issuance.

Do we need to apply for a license in the county in which we live?

No. You can obtain a license from any county in Pennsylvania.

My partner and I are legally married out of state. Do we need to do anything?

No. Your marriage will be considered valid for all state rights and benefits of marriage. You do not need to remarry in Pennsylvania; doing so could complicate separation, should one occur.

My partner and I have a civil union or domestic partnership out of state. Do we need to do anything?

The state has not yet clarified this issue, but couples will likely need to legally marry.

I was previously married and divorced. Do I need to take any extra steps?

An applicant who was previously married must present the divorce decree when applying for a license.

I have been “wedlocked” and waiting to divorce. How do I do that?

Same-sex divorces will now be treated by the courts the same as heterosexual divorces. Contact your attorney to initiate divorce proceedings.

How does this affect our health-care plan?

All companies, public and private, that provide health-care benefits to heterosexual spouses will now have to treat legally married same-sex couples the same.

How does this affect our income taxes?

Same-sex couples in Pennsylvania will now be able to file income-tax returns jointly at both the state and federal levels. Amended tax returns to list yourselves as married may be able to be filed for refunds.

How does this affect our joint property?

Same-sex spouses can now be added to a deed without being charged an inheritance or real-estate transfer tax in the event of one spouse’s passing. There is a possibility that individuals who paid such taxes recently can get a refund.

Is there anything we need to do in regards to our second-parent adoption?

No, an adoption decree is final and the rights remain the same. However, married same-sex couples can now pursue step-parent, instead of second-parent, adoptions, which do not require a home study. Unmarried couples can still adopt jointly.

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