Archive | December 2012

DOMA and Immigrant Status


"capitol couple" by author

“capitol couple” by author

The 1996 Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) prohibits the federal government from recognizing same-sex unions even if they are legal in any of the states.  The most well-known effects of this legislation are that gay couples cannot file joint income tax returns, do not have automatic rights of hospital visitation or inheritance, cannot be automatic beneficiaries for pension or insurance plans, and so much more.  In fact, there are at least 1,138 different automatic rights and privileges afforded to legally married heterosexual couples that the DOMA denies to same-sex marriages or civil unions.

The Washington Post recently published a story of one of the more little-known effects of DOMA: a lesbian couple legally married in Washington, DC, that may be separated by the law because one of the spouses has an expiring student visa.  Normally, a citizen spouse in a bi-national marriage can automatically sponsor the immigrant spouse for a green card.  Since the federal government does not recognize same-sex unions, the effect is that the immigrant spouse would have to return to his/her home country unless they can find another way to stay in the United States.  The Family Equality Council estimates that around 36,000 couples (46% of which have children) are affected by this rule.

In September, Secretary of Homeland Security Janet Napolitano issued a directive recognizing binational same-sex couples as families and placing them on “low priority” status for deportation proceedings.  This action was lauded by LGBT rights advocates as a step in the right direction.  A more permanent solution, of course, would be a complete repeal of DOMA, which is currently on the Supreme Court docket this term.

Read more: Immigration Laws & Same-Sex Couples from Marriage Equality USA (MarriageEquality.org).

This blog is an advertisement for the Law Office of Philip R. Yabut, PLLC, and the information in this post is not to be construed as legal advice, nor does reading it form an attorney-client relationship. Please do not post confidential information in the comments section.

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Five Reasons to Get a Living Will


"pink rose" by author

“pink rose” by author

A living will — a.k.a. Advance Medical Directive — is a power of attorney that directs your living relatives or beneficiaries to make medical decisions for you in the event you become unable to do so yourself.  Typically, living wills are used for the ultimate decision of extraordinary means to extend life.

But why should you get a living will?

1. It is a legally enforceable document that removes all doubt as to your wishes, making it easier for your family to act at an emotionally distressed time.

2. It heads off potential for expensive and exhausting litigation, the Terri Schiavo case being the most extreme example.

3. It gives you peace of mind that your final wishes will be carried out if the unthinkable happens.

4. It gives your friends and family peace of mind knowing that they will not have to agonize over an unthinkable decision.

5. It is inexpensive.  You can get one on my online services page.

This blog is an advertisement for the Law Office of Philip R. Yabut, PLLC, and the information in this post is not to be construed as legal advice, nor does reading it form an attorney-client relationship. Please do not post confidential information in the comments section.

Presentation: Uncontested Divorce in Virginia


This presentation is a brief overview of how to proceed with an uncontested divorce in Virginia.

This blog is an advertisement for the Law Office of Philip R. Yabut, PLLC, and the information in this post is not to be construed as legal advice, nor does reading it form an attorney-client relationship. Please do not post confidential information in the comments section.