Things to Consider after you Marry
As a NON-ATTORNEY website, we cannot and will not provide specific information for your exact situation and we cannot decide whether our information and/or forms are appropriate for you. You must use your own judgment, our legal links, and, to the extent that you deem appropriate, the assistance of an attorney to make these decisions for you and your family.
Federal Benefits & Income Calculations
Your marriage affects your right to federal benefits like Medicare and Medicaid, Social Security, or disability assistance. Your spouse may be able to receive more benefits as your spouse than on his or her own, or you may receive less benefits after you marry, depending on the benefit you receive.
If you think you may be eligible for Social Security benefits of any kind, you should apply as soon as possible. The start date for Social Security benefits is tied to when you apply.
UPDATE: On August 20, 2015 the Department of Justice announced that the Social Security Administration (SSA) will apply the U.S. Supreme Court's recent landmark marriage ruling retroactively and process pending spousal benefits claims for same-sex couples who lived in states that did not previously recognize their marriages. This means that surviving spouses previously denied survivor benefits may now be eligible to receive those benefits. Read more here.
It’s important to know that you must have been married for 9 months before one of the spouses passed away in order for the surviving spouse to get spousal benefits.
Click here for the Social Security Administration’s page on Important Information for Same-Sex Couples.
As a legally married couple, your household income is likely to be calculated jointly when used in the determination of eligibility for access to various social service programs, such as Medicaid, Ryan White, tax subsidies available through Affordable Care Act Marketplace health plans, and other programs. This joint calculation could render you ineligible for certain social services based on income. You should also consider your liabilities as a couple: student loans, credit card debt, judgments, etc.
For more specific information regarding your situation, you may want to consult a lawyer or financial advisor.
Florida’s marriage license application process includes Florida state paperwork as well as county-specific paperwork. Though most individual counties have updated their paperwork to include gender-neutral language, the paperwork designed by the Florida Bureau of Vital Statistics has not yet been updated and therefore reads “Bride” and “Groom”.
On August 5th, 2015, Equality Florida submitted 1,266 signatures in support of an inclusive update to state-issued marriage certificates that would provide a space for the name of each "Spouse". The Bureau of Vital Statistics has set a timeline for approving this long-overdue update to marriage-related applications and certificates and we expect they will remedy the situation promptly and without further delay. Read more here.
Florida Retirement System
All state employees who were legally married at the time of retirement are eligible to retroactively list their spouse as a beneficiary.
"In light of the U.S. District Court's order in Brenner et al concerning same-sex marriage in Florida, Florida Retirement System retirees and Deferred Retirement Option Program (DROP) participants who were in legally recognized same-sex marriages at the time they retired or began DROP participation ... will have an opportunity to change benefit payment options," states the letter.
The letter notes the change applies to retirees and DROP participants who applied before Jan. 1.
Please email [email protected] or call toll free 844-377-1888 or 850-907-6500 in the Tallahassee local calling area for the necessary change-of-beneficiary forms and if you have questions about a possible change in benefits.
Equal Benefits for Married Same-Sex Couples
On January 6th, 2015, the State of Florida quickly released a memo allowing state employees with same-sex spouses to add them to their health insurance. Moving forward, all same-sex spouses will be eligible for inclusion in a family plan with the State of Florida’s insurance plan.
If you work for a private company, you need to contact your employer’s Human Resources Department to add your spouse to your benefit plans. Your marriage should be considered as a qualifying event that allows you to add your spouse outside the annual open enrollment period, but you have to act promptly. Your spouse also has automatic rights to your pension and any qualified retirement plans. You should take steps to have your spouse’s name added to those plans as a legal spouse. You also have a right to COBRA coverage and Family Medical Leave.
Please contact us if your employer refuses to add your spouse to your benefits plan because of your or their sexual orientation or gender identity.
The Social Security Administration updated their policy to include same-sex marriages performed or recognized in Florida on January 16th, 2015. If you choose to change your name after marriage, your Florida or out-of-state marriage license can be used to change your legal name on your driver’s license at your local DMV and your Social Security card at your local SSA office.
Income Tax Filing
Now that you are married, your tax filing status has changed. If you were married previously in another jurisdiction, your tax professional can run the numbers and see if it's advantageous to retroactively amend your returns to reflect the marriage for up to the prior 3 years, depending on your date of marriage.
Click here to see the IRS’s Answers to Frequently Asked Questions for Individuals of the Same Sex Who Are Married Under State Law
If you married an active service member or veteran, be sure to look into the benefits you should now qualify to receive. Click here to get started
Marital and Estate Planning
If you do not have an estate plan in place, Florida law dictates how your estate will be distributed. The share of the estate left to the surviving spouse could be the entire intestate estate, one-half of the intestate estate, or even none of the intestate estate, depending on the circumstances specific to your family and descendants. Click here to see the full statute that references estate inheritance.
An attorney can help you with a postnuptial agreement or an estate plan. All married couples should make sure that they have planned for what will happen to their spouse if one of them passes away through estate planning. This could be through a will or trust, or designating your spouse as a beneficiary on your financial accounts.
It is also highly recommended to fill out health care directives. See www.caringinfo.org for blank healthcare directives for your state.
Depending on how your deed is worded, a simple document filed for couples could mean the difference between a marital home passing directly to the spouse or the unnecessary requirement to go to Probate Court. You should contact an attorney to review and adjust your real property documents. Filing a deed change can be done anywhere in the state - it doesn't have to be in person, so the attorney you select need not be located in the same city or county as your property.