Same-Sex Couples May Invoke Marital Privilege in Federal Court Proceedings
- March 7, 2014
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In its recent memorandum regarding changes to federal law concerning the recognition of same-sex marriage, the United States Department of Justice indicated that same-sex spouses will now be able to invoke marital privileges in both federal civil and criminal cases. The rights now extended to gay and lesbian married couples will affect both the confidential communication between spouses as well as testimonial communications. The confidential communications privilege protects all of the substance and contents of the confidential communications made between spouses during the duration of their marriage. The testimonial privilege, under certain circumstances, protects a spouse from being compelled to testify against his or her spouse in court proceedings. Prior to the new federal policy, only heterosexual couples could assert these privileges. According to the Department of Justice memo, for the purposes of asserting the aforementioned privileges, it will consider a marriage to be legally valid if the same-sex marriage was conducted and is recognized in a jurisdiction that recognizes marriage equality. It is very important to note that these privileges will not be extended to homosexual couples who are currently joined only in a domestic partnership or civil union. As more and more states begin to recognize marriage equality across the nation, many state and federal laws are quickly adapting to accommodate the rapid social and legal changes that follow. It is very important to remain informed and up to date on these rapidly changing developments that will continue to have an important impact on the state and federal laws throughout America. If you are a gay or lesbian couple who plans on seeking a legal marriage or filing for a same-sex divorce it is critical that you seek out the advice of an experienced attorney before proceeding. For more information about same-sex marriage, same-sex divorce, same-sex relationship dissolution, alimony, child support, custody, visitation, civil union, or other family law matters in New Jersey visit HeatherDarlingLawyer.com. This blog is for informational purposes and it is in no way intended to replace the advice of an attorney.