LOS ANGELES, CA--(Marketwire - Oct 10, 2012) - According to California Family Law Attorney Mark B. Baer, same-sex couples pay more in taxes yet receive fewer tax breaks than married couples under federal and state law and the impact of this is clearly defined in a new nationwide study by the American Sociological Association. The recently-issued ASA study shows that many economically-disadvantaged married couples in America are now choosing long-term separation over divorce, particularly if they have young children. While separation may not be their first choice, the study suggests that unhappily-married couples would rather separate than divorce because they would lose valuable benefits. Los Angeles Family Law Attorney Mark Baer points out that these same benefits are presently denied to same-sex couples who want to marry but cannot under state and federal law.
He points out that married couples currently receive a benefit to insure their spouse on their medical insurance at little or no additional cost, which would be lost if they were to divorce. "Employers are only legally required to offer such benefits to spouses, as defined by federal law," states Attorney Baer. "Furthermore, legally married couples are not taxed on employer-provided health benefits to spouses while same sex couples are taxed.
"By divorcing, married couples would also lose the benefit of filing joint federal income tax returns, which tend to save couples thousands of dollars annually. Since same-sex marriage is not federally recognized, those couples cannot file joint federal tax returns."
Another financial benefit for married couples is the ability for a spouse to receive retirement benefits, survivor benefits and lump-sum death benefits afforded through Social Security. Here again, same-sex couples do not have this right.
He states, "There is also inequitable treatment for the children raised in same-sex households under the Child Tax Credit, which only includes biological children, step-children, and adopted children. Since same-sex couples cannot legally marry under federal law, they are precluded from being step-parents."
Additionally, spouses of living military personnel are eligible to receive many benefits, including for health care, family separation pay, and relocation assistance while same-sex spouses are not eligible for such services and benefits.
"Clearly, there is inequity in obtaining access to governmental services and benefits based upon the legal definition of marriage under federal law," states Attorney Baer, "although same-sex couples pay more in taxes than married couples because of this inequity."
He notes that the ASA study demonstrates that the receipt of such benefits is the difference between sinking or swimming financially. "If people who want to divorce are tying up their lives by separating instead of divorcing, then those benefits must be pretty important to them. This study points to one of the main reasons why marriage equality is considered a 'civil right' rather than a matter of religious belief."
As a Family Law Attorney, Mark Baer's "family values" include speaking out when one person or group's personal beliefs happen to harm another person or group.
Mark B. Baer is a Family Law Attorney/Mediator/Collaborative Law Practitioner who has practiced law in Los Angeles for over twenty years with an office in Pasadena, CA. His firm represents individuals on issues regarding family law, divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support, restraining orders, paternity actions, or domestic partnerships. For more information, please visit: www.markbaeresq.com.