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What Rights Come with Legal Marriage?
— New York —
© 2003, Demian

This is a partial list of the legal marriage laws in the State of New York. These 99 rights and responsibilities — out of some 200 laws that are triggered by legal marriage — show the variety of societal and business interactions built into legal marriage. This list provides a glimpse of what is at stake by the denial of access to legal marriage.

While all states generally cover similar legal areas, there are state-by-state differences. Besides the state laws, the U.S. Federal system also has more than 1,138 laws which are triggered by legal marriage. [See U.S. Federal Laws for the Legally Married.]

Almost all states offer some form of the following marital rights:

  • to not be forced to testify in court against each other;
  • ability to make medical decisions on each other’s behalf;
  • to seek wrongful death compensation;
  • access to a decedent’s estate in the absence of a will;
  • to maintain life and disability insurance on a spouse;
  • eligibility for worker’s compensation death benefits; and
  • to automatically hold property as tenants in common.

The following specific New York law references were researched by Toshav Storrs. He and his partner Phillip Storrs have sued for legal marriage. [See Legal Marriage Court Cases — A Timeline.] Messrs. Storrs may be reached at
  1. Estate, Powers and Trust Law, section 5-1.1-A — Right of Election by a Surviving Spouse.
  2. EPTL, section 5-1.2 — Disqualification as Surviving Spouse; sets penalty for spouses that don't support the other spouse as per a legal duty.
  3. EPTL, section 5-1.3 — Revocatory effect of Marriage after execution of will.
  4. EPTL, section 5-3.1 — Exemption for benefit of family.
  5. EPTL, section 5-3.4 — Action in supreme court by child and by surviving spouse.
  6. Abandon Property Law, section 206(1)(b) — Surviving spouse may present petition for escheated lands.
  7. Abandon Property Law, section 208(2) — Conveyance of escheated to surviving spouse to be done without consideration.
  8. Abandon Property Law, section 600(1)(c) — Money paid in support of spouse still with county treasurer defined as abandoned property.
  9. Banking Law, section 4 — Release of information on spouse of inmate in state correctional facility to certain authorities.
  10. Banking Law, section 397(2)(b)(3) — Ineligibility of spouse to serve as director of savings and loan association.
  11. Banking Law, section 246(4) — Ineligibility of spouse to serve as trustee of savings bank.
  12. Benevolent Order Law, section 7 — Allows certain benevolent orders to unite to provide a home for indigent members and their spouses.
  13. Civil Practice Law and Rules, section 4101(2) — Action for dower as a triable issue before a jury.
  14. CPLR, section 4502 — Privileged communication between spouses.
  15. CPLR, section 4504(c) — Waiver of confidential information privilege of deceased patient by surviving spouse.
  16. CPLR, section 4519 — Personal transaction or communication between witness and decedent or lunatic.
  17. Civil Rights Law, section 80-b — Recovery of property transferred in contemplation of marriage.
  18. Civil Service Law, section 164 — Health insurance coverage for spouse.
  19. Civil Service Law, section 165-a — Continuation of state health insurance plans for survivors of state employees.
  20. Correction Law, section 320 — Spouse of life-imprisoned inmate may apply for appointment of committee of estate.
  21. Correction Law, section 500-b — Spouses may be housed together.
  22. Correction Law, section 113 — Inmate confined may attend funeral or deathbed of spouse.
  23. Correction Law, section 402 — Notice of petition to commit mentally ill inmate to be served on spouse.
  24. Correction Law, section 472 — Death benefits for state department of correction employees' spouses.
  25. Correction Law, section 351 — Spouse as one who may apply as trustee of inmate confined for less than life.
  26. Correction Law, section 359 — Trustee of inmate to apply surplus moneys for support of spouse and children.
  27. Domestic Relations Law, sections 50 through 61 — Certain rights and liabilities of spouses.
  28. Domestic Relations Law, section 81 — Appointment of guardians by parent.
  29. Domestic Relations Law, section 117 — Adoption by stepparent does not terminate natural parent's rights.
  30. Domestic Relations Law, section 110 — Adult spouse may adopt together.
  31. Education Law, section 663 — Income, a determinate of amount of awards.
  32. Election Law, section 10-106 — Spouse of military voter may register or him or her.
  33. Election Law, section 15-120 (c) — Spouse may vote as absentee voter.
  34. Election Law, section 14-114 — Contribution and receipt limitation to candidates for election to public office.
  35. Executive Law, section 624 — Eligibility of surviving spouse of crime victim to receive crime victim's award.
  36. Executive Law, section 214 — Preferred right of surviving spouse of state police officer killed in the line of duty to enroll in training school.
  37. Executive Law, section 227-a — Death benefits for a surviving spouse of member of division of state police.
  38. Executive Law, section 626 — Eligibility for counseling costs as spouse of sex crime victim.
  39. General business Law, section 32 — Peddler's license, to surviving spouse of veteran.
  40. General City Law, section 20 (29-a) — Health insurance for surviving spouse of city employee killed in performance of duty.
  41. General City Law, section 25-a — Personal income tax of married persons.
  42. General Municipal Law, section 148 — Burial of members of the armed forces of the United States and their families; headstones.
  43. General Municipal Law, section 163 — Cemetery lot owner's rights, surviving spouse to have possession, care and control of lot during surviving spouse's life.
  44. General Municipal Law, section 146 — Devise or bequest for more than one-half of testator's estate may be contested by surviving spouse.
  45. General Municipal Law, section 205 — Payments to injured or representative of deceased volunteer firefighter.
  46. General Municipal Law, section 205-a — Action against person causing injury in wrongful injury or death of firefighter.
  47. General Obligations Law, sections 3-301 to 3-315 — General obligation provisions relation to married persons.
  48. General Obligations Law, section 5-311 — Certain agreements between spouses void.
  49. General Obligations Law, section 11-101(2) — Compensation for injury caused by illegal sale of intoxicating liquor.
  50. General Obligations Law, section 3-102 — Obligations of certain minors for hospital, medical and surgical treatment and care.
  51. General Obligations Law, section 3-103 — Contracts pursuant to the “Servicemen's Readjustment Act of 1944” as amended.
  52. General Obligations Law, section 3-101(3) — Infants, contractual powers with regard to real property upon marriage.
  53. Indian Law, section 3 — Marriage laws of State apply to Indians.
  54. Insurance Law, section 2103(i)(1) — Refusal or revocation of agent's license where certain percentage of commissions will be made from insuring property and risks of spouse.
  55. Insurance Law, section 3205 — Insurance of spouse without consent.
  56. Insurance Law, section 3212(b)(2) — Conversion privilege of surviving spouse in regard to group or blanket accident and health insurance.
  57. Insurance Law, section 4216(f) — Inclusion of spouse in group life insurance.
  58. Insurance Law, section 3220(a)(5) — Facility of payment clause for group or industrial life insurance.
  59. Insurance Law, section 3207(a) — Minor insured's spouse as life insurance beneficiary.
  60. Labor Law, section 593(1)(b) — Disqualification for benefits after voluntary separation from last employment due to marriage.
  61. Mental Hygiene Law, section 43.03 — Spouses liable for fees for services of Department of Mental Hygiene.
  62. Military Law, section 309 — No eviction of spouse of tenant in military service except upon leave of court.
  63. Military Law, section 214(5) — Retired officers' compensation goes to surviving spouse.
  64. Military Law, section 217(2) — Surviving spouse to receive pension, should organized militia member die.
  65. Military Law, section 250-a — Designation of surviving spouse to dispose of remains of deceased member of organized militia.
  66. Not-for Profit Corporation Law, section 1401(bb) — Consent of spouse to removal of body from cemetery.
  67. Penal Law, section 255.15 — Bigamy.
  68. Penal Law, section 255.17 — Adultery.
  69. Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law, section 405 — Effect of remarriage on valuing interest in property.
  70. Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law, sections 1402(4), 1403(1) — service of notice of foreclosure sale on spouse of mortgagor.
  71. Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law, sections 1001 -1093 — Action for dower.
  72. Real Property Actions and Proceedings Law, section 460 — Exemption of property owned by clergyman's un-remarried surviving spouse.
  73. Real Property Tax Law, section 428 — Exemption of property used for care of surviving spouse of members.
  74. Real Property Tax Law, section 928 — Payment of tax on principal residence in two installments.
  75. Real Property Tax Law, section 458 — Exemption of property purchased with veteran's eligible funds.
  76. Real Property Tax Law, section 467 — Exemptions when one spouse is 65 or over.
  77. Real Property Tax Law, sections 190-207 — Dower and courtesy.
  78. Retirement and Social Security Law, section 90(a) — Election of options by spouse of incompetent member.
  79. Retirement and Social Security Law, sections 61(d), 361(d) — Death benefits to surviving spouse.
  80. Retirement and Social Security Law, section 162 — Eligibility of surviving spouse for supplemental pensions.
  81. Retirement and Social Security Law, section 78(h) — Supplemental retirement allowances for surviving spouse.
  82. Rural Electric Co-operative Law, section 19(e) — Only one spouse eligible as director of rural electric co-operative.
  83. Social Services Law, section 169 — Assistance to veteran's spouse.
  84. Social Services Law, sections 101, 105 — Support of persons receiving public assistance.
  85. Tax Law, section 606 — Household gross income of spouse defined.
  86. Tax Law, section 1115 — Exemption from sales and use tax of sale of motor vehicles between spouses.
  87. Tax Law, section 658 — Fraud by spouse.
  88. Tax Law, sections 1005,1009 — Gift tax, marital deduction.
  89. Tax Law, section 607(b) — Marital status defined.
  90. Tax Law, section 601 — Tax calculation for married couples, heads of households and unmarried individuals.
  91. Tax Law, section 651(b) — Relief from liability of spouse signing joint return.
  92. Volunteer Firemen's Benefit Law, section 7 — Death benefits payable to surviving spouse.
  93. Volunteer Firemen's Benefit Law, section 18 — Payment of accrued benefits to surviving spouse.
  94. Volunteer Firemen's Benefit Law, section 10(2) — Award payment to surviving spouse for permanent, partial disability after death of claimant.
  95. Worker's Compensation Law, section 121-a — Marriage certificates, proof of dependency in foreign countries.
  96. Worker's Compensation Law, sections 16, 27(4,5), 29(2) — Second marriage for surviving spouse of employee.
  97. Worker's Compensation Law, sections 15(4), 33, 236 — Accrued disability benefits.
  98. Worker's Compensation Law, sections 305(4), 310, 312 — Benefits after death of civil defense volunteer.
  99. Constitution of New York State, Art. VI, section 13-b — Crimes between spouse may be heard in family court.

None of these regulations governing marriage rights and responsibilities are available to same-sex partners.
Also see:
Governments that offer Full Legal Marriage

Netherlands (2001)
Belgium (2003)
Canada (2005)
Spain (2005)
South Africa (2005)
Norway (2009)
Sweden (2009)
Iceland (2010)
Argentina (2010)
Portugal (2010)
Denmark (2012)
France (2013)
New Zealand (2013)
Brazil (2013)
Uruguay (2013)
New Zealand (2013)
United Kingdom
(England, Wales, Scotland) (2013)
Luxembourg (2014)
Finland (2014)
Ireland (2015)
United States (2015)
Colombia (2016)
Germany (2017)
Taiwan (2017)
Malta (2017)
Australia (2017)
US States & Territories
U.S. Supreme Court, June 26, 2015 Ruling: All U.S. States must allow same-sex couples legal marriage.

Massachusetts (2004)
California (2008)
Connecticut (2008)
Iowa (2009)
Vermont (2009)
New Hampshire (2009)
District of Columbia (2009)
New York (2011)
Maine (2012)
Washington (2012)
Maryland (2013)
Rhode Island (2013)
Delaware (2013)
Minnesota (2013)
Illinois (2013)
Utah (2013)
New Jersey (2013)

Hawaii (2013)
New Mexico (2013)
Michigan (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
Oregon (2014)
Wisconsin (2014) Arkansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
Pennsylvania (2014)
Indiana (2014)
Nevada (2014)
Virginia (2014)
Oklahoma (2014)
Idaho (2014)
West Virginia (2014)
Alaska (2014)
Arizona (2014)
Wyoming (2014)
Kansas (2014) - stayed pending legal challenge
Florida (2014)
Colorado (2014)
North Carolina (2014)
South Carolina (2014)
Montana (2014)
Alabama (2015)
Native American Tribes

Coquille Tribe, Oregon (2009)
Mashantucket Pequot, Connecticut (2011)
Suquamish Tribe, Washington (2011)
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Reservation, Washington (2013)
Leech Lake Band of Ojibwe, Minnesota (2013)
Little Traverse Bay Bands of Odawa Indians, Michigan (2013)
Pokagon Band of Potawatomi Indians, Michigan (2013)
Santa Ysabel Tribe, California (2013)
Confederated Tribes of the Colville Nation, Washington (2013)
Cheyenne, Oklahoma (2013)
Arapaho, Oklahoma (2013)
Leech Lake Tribal Court, Minnesota (2013)
Puyallup Tribe, Washington (2914)
Wind River Indian Reservation, Wyoming (2014)
Keweenaw Bay Indian Community, Michigan (2014)
Colville Confederated Tribes, Washington (2014)
Central Council of Tlingit, Alaska (2015)
Haida Indian Tribes, Alaska (2015)

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