With the recent passage of historic legislation approving gay marriage in New York, the legal landscape is now entirely different for gay and lesbian couples in this state. If you are involved in a same-sex relationship and reside in New York, keep in mind that if you divorce, you will now be subject to the same legal and financial constraints that are imposed on straight couples.
In addition, the new law will influence court decision on unmarried, same-sex couples who are deemed to have legal responsibilities to each other. For example, in a recent case prior to the new legislation, a New York Court ordered one partner in a lesbian relationship to pay child support. Her partner conceived the child through artificial insemination, and the judge ruled that there was reliance on an implied promise of support. Certainly, future cases like this one will be affected by a law that now legitimizes the rights and obligations of same-sex couples under the doctrine of marriage. So if you are in a relationship that has distinct similarities to a marriage from a legal perspective, as a practical matter it is more likely to be treated like a marriage if you end up in court.
Depending on what you have in mind for your relationship, you may want to speak to a matrimonial lawyer to learn about your potential liability first. In certain instances, a prenuptial agreement that is customized for your needs may be a good idea.