By Melissa Myers and Michael Tucker, Dec. 4, 2014.

Michael J. Tucker: Well, Melissa, the shock of Arizona’s abrupt legal recognition of same-sex marriage is still fresh. Gradually the LGBTQ community is digesting the implications.

Melissa Myers: What folks are deciding to do with this new-found ability to marry in Arizona seems to be divided into three broad camps.

Tucker: Yes, a wave of couples married shortly after Section 3 of DOMA was struck down in the summer of 2013. They married in California or New York or one of the many states that recognized marriage sooner that Arizona did. Another wave of couples rushed headlong to the altar in Arizona as soon as it was possible, as of Oct. 17.

Myers: Let’s call them the “early adopters.” They may or may not have taken much time to explore the financial and legal details of marriage, but they were enthusiastically exercising their ability to marry their partners at long last.

Tucker: A second group seems to be couples that are deliberately and carefully weighing the pros and cons, as well as the kaleidoscope of legal and financial consequences of marriage, before making a decision.

Myers: Some couples are consulting their tax professionals, financial advisors and legal advisors to get a handle on all of the implications.

Tucker: Right! They may be discussing it with friends and family as well, and hopefully they are reading the many Echo articles on the subject of marital rights and responsibilities.

Myers: Let’s call this group “the deliberators.”

Tucker: I like that name. In general, the third group includes couples that have been together for many years and feel very comfortable with things the way they are.

Myers: This is the if-it-ain’t-broke-don’t-fix-it crowd. They are committed to one another, have found a way to manage their joint and separate finances in a comfortable manner and may have already signed documents to protect each other.

Tucker: They have undertaken what we might call “traditional non-traditional” planning. They may have individual wills or trusts, health care and financial powers of attorney and domestic partnership agreements all established with the intention of giving each other powers and inheritance rights upon the death of either of them as well as a framework for dividing assets and liabilities if the relationship were to ever terminate.

Myers: If they have children, they may have co-parenting agreements and are comfortable with the limits of these types of agreements.

Tucker: They are accustomed to, and comfortable with, the work-arounds that were necessary when same-sex marriage wasn’t a legally valid option, such as the planning documents you mentioned. They feel they have adequately protected themselves as completely as possible. They often don’t really see the need to officially marry each other, as they feel solid in their commitment and partnership.

Myers: Whichever camp you find yourself in, know that there are distinct consequences to marriage and more than a few that may surprise you. We invite you to review the last several Money Talks columns and other articles available on EchoMag.com. It’s wise to seek out resources to help you with your thought process and decision-making.

Tucker: It’s not gay marriage anymore — now it’s marriage. It’s mighty real, and couples will be wise to pick and choose the right and responsibilities of marriage that serve them, while rejecting those that don’t.

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