Many Maryland residents are aware that unmarried couples can face problematic issues that those who are married may not need to consider in quite the same way. The type of family law matters that can challenge unmarried couples include the right to visit sick partners in the hospital, to make funeral arrangements for a partner who has died and many other health care and tax considerations. Some counties and states are trying to address these issues by providing extended rights to those who either cannot marry or choose not to for their own personal reasons.
One southeastern county in a southeastern state is in the process of creating a domestic registry which would grant certain rights to unmarried couples who sign up. This registry would allow unmarried couples to visit each other in the hospital when ill and to plan the funeral of a partner who dies. However, even with that being said, those who sign up for registries like this may still need to consider their family law and estate planning options that fall outside the scope of the granted rights.
Estate planning documents can be particularly important for unmarried couples to implement in order to make sure that their wishes are carried out after their deaths. Rights of inheritance can be complicated, especially in circumstances where a couple has shared their lives and assets but never married. Additionally, documents like a healthcare directive can also be useful in order to grant each other the right to make important life-and-death decisions if that is what unmarried partners desire.
Family law matters like these can make things more challenging for Maryland residents who are not married, but they do not have to be impossible. By researching the laws and how they apply to a specific case, couples can be proactive in solving their own issues. Additionally, those who feel that they need a more nuanced opinion may wish to consider enlisting the aid of someone who is experienced in addressing family law matters to help advise what options may be most appropriate in a given situation.
Source: HeraldTribune.com, "Sarasota County domestic partner registry moves forward," Dale White, June 5, 2013