The wonderful world of family

When it comes to definitions, a nuclear “family,” for some, requires a couple at the head. “Couple” requires, for others, a legal commitment. “Legal commitment,” for still others, requires a “marriage”—call it what you will.

On the international front, France’s Civil solidarity Pact of 1999 offers a registry for homosexual partners as well as unmarried heterosexuals that grants them the same rights of marriage in the areas of income tax, inheritance, housing, health benefits and welfare. Other European nations have similar registers. Holland and Belgium offer full marriage rights to homosexual couples, and many Scandinavian countries offer marriage rights on a more limited basis.

Closer to home, Canada may soon take the plunge, allowing homosexual marriage, putting the state stamp of approval on families headed by gay couples. Vermont began offering same-sex civil unions, which confers many of the same rights as a marriage ceremony, more than three years ago.

In Nevada, without marriage or civil unions, there are no legal inheritance rights or community property laws in place. These hurdles can be overcome, though, by families that want some security for partners and children. Jenkins will head a seminar on Aug. 23, “Legal Issues Facing Nevada Same Sex Couples,” which will cover these topics and others, including living-together contracts, children, real estate, wills, trusts and estates.

“The best thing you can do is plan for it, and head it off with a living-together arrangement, a contract, stating all of the earnings during the term of our relationship are halvsies,” explains Jenkins.