Hetero couples can tie an ill-considered knot in BexarCo for $66 and a breathtakingly short reflection period, but same-sex unions, for better or worse, take considerable more effort and investment in the vast majority of states that don’t recognize gay marriage or homosexual domestic partnerships. And for all the additional small type, they rest on some legal uncertainties. But man-man and woman-woman unions can enjoy many of the same privileges straight married couples take for granted (keeping the house you lived in together; passing on Great Aunt Kiki’s deco candelabra) for approximately $1,000-$1,500. Southtown attorney Mike Casey, who put together the documents for Rick Frederick and Chris Sauter `see story, page 16`, examined a partnership agreement Sauter googled up, and adapted the intention to Texas law.
“You start out by saying what the state doesn’t recognize,” says Casey. “Community property, next of kin ... You’re trying to establish them by contract rather than be satisfied by what the law says.”
Here’s what you’ll need:
1. Domestic Partnership Agreement.This piece of paper memorializes your intention to share all property earned in the relationship equally from this day forward. It also reiterates the intent to enter into the agreements outlined in the following documents. Casey isn’t 100-percent sure the courts would recognize this one if it were challenged, so please, don’t get a “divorce” and perhaps ruin it for everyone else.
2. Statutory Durable Power of Attorney.This document grants the right to conduct each other’s business affairs should one of you become incapacitated. Rock solid once it’s signed.
3. Medical Power of Attorney. Same as above, but for medical (read: life and death) decisions. Makes you think, doesn’t it?
4. Hospital Visitation Authorization. This all-important paperwork lets you designate each other as first priority for visitation. Casey says this hasn’t been tested in Texas yet. Let’s hope we don’t have to find out what kind of jerk hospital would challenge it.
5. Last Will and Testament. You know what this one’s for.
6. Joint Venture Agreement. In the event that one of you already owns a piece of real property and you can’t add your beloved’s name to the title, this document declares joint ownership.