Obergefell, Marriage & Real Estate

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What Does it Mean for Agents and their Clients?

On June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court held that states may not enact laws that deny same sex couples the right to marry, and that states must recognize same sex marriages validly performed in other states. The Court reasoned that such laws violate the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the fourteenth amendment to the United States Constitution. This ruling has a significant impact, as it invalidates Louisiana's laws that did not recognize same sex marriage in any form. Marriage licenses are now being issued to same sex couples throughout the state, and Louisiana must now recognize same sex marriages performed in other states.

What does the Court's ruling mean for you as a real estate practitioner?

1) Future Clients:

From today forward, all marriages will be treated equally under the law. Same sex married couples purchasing property in Louisiana will now be subject to the community property laws of the state, and all property acquired during their marriage will be presumed to be community property unless otherwise stipulated.

2) Past Clients:

If your same sex clients were validly married in another state and purchased property in Louisiana before the Court's decision, things are not as straight-forward. While this area of the law is not yet developed, it is probable that the property purchased by one spouse only will be considered their separate property, and that property purchased by both spouses will be governed by the rules of co-ownership rather than the rules of community property.

In any event, there are steps your clients can take to ensure that their ownership rights align with their intentions, regardless of when and where they were married. Title Stream recommends they consult an attorney who can guide them in making informed decisions regarding their estate planning and real estate transactions. Please do not hesitate to contact us with any questions you or your clients may have. We are here to help!