Pittsburgh’s Black PRIDE Celebration


Pittsburgh’s Black PRIDE Celebration will take place from Monday, July 22 through Sunday, July 28, 2013. The festivities will include various events around the city that include a variety of venues and culminating in the classic Rainbows in the Park PRIDE Cookout.  Additionally, this year they will be kicking off the weeklong celebration with an Opening Reception on Monday, July 22, 2013.

For more information, please please feel free to contact the Committee via email at pghblackpride@gmail.com or by accessing their website at http://www.pittsburghblackpride.org/.


Pittsburgh Pride Event – Legal and Financial Planning for Gay and Lesbian Couples


Legal and Financial Planning
for Gay and Lesbian Couples

Tuesday, June 11, 2013
6:00 – 7:30 p.m.

Reception and Discussion
by below-named speakers:

                   Buchanan Ingersoll & Rooney PC
                         Maureen B. Cohon, Esquire
                         Kate R. Paine, Esquire
                                  Nontraditional Couples & Families Practice Group

                     Fifth Third Bank
                            Robert Lepre, Senior Vice President
                                  Private Bank Manager
                                  Life Partner Services

Please RSVP by Thursday, June 6, 2013, to
Maureen B. Cohon – 412-562-1835 or maureen.cohon@bipc.com

Space limits us to 50 attendees

Program will be held at:

WQED Multimedia
4802 Fifth Avenue

Parking Available

Domestic Partner/Cohabitation Agreements: Finances & Property

by Maureen B. Cohon

If you can’t marry in the state you live in – or if you do not want to marry – domestic partner/cohabitation agreements (the terms are interchangeable) can help you make a plan for your partnership.

In broad terms, these agreements address the sharing of assets and expenses, and can document for a court and any other interested parties (i.e. an employer from which you wish to obtain domestic partner benefits) the “family nature” of the cohabiting parties’ relationship and living arrangements. Specifically, these agreements may define the partners’ financial obligations to one another and to their children, clarify the ownership of major assets such as real or personal property, and protect the partners’ rights should they ever terminate their relationship.

In the unfortunate event of a separation, a domestic partnership agreement can save the parties the time and expense of litigating their rights and obligations, particularly with respect to property. Clients who contact us after deciding to terminate their partnership most often find parting less stressful if there already is a signed agreement that states the partners’ wishes.

In the next three posts, we’ll cover three broad categories of issues Domestic Partner/ Cohabitation Agreements can help address – finances & property, family, and potential separation.

Finances & Property

If you are living with someone, domestic partner/cohabitation agreements can outline what you and your partner will each contribute to living expenses, mortgage, utilities, entertainment, real estate taxes, homeowners or renters insurance and other items relating to your place of residence or any other shared property.

Questions to Consider

  • Do you have – or will you open – joint banking or checking accounts, joint credit cards, or investment accounts? You might want a joint account for only household purchases and separate accounts for credit card purchases or paying for personal items. If you have or want joint accounts of any kind, you may want to have both signatures for any withdrawals over a certain amount. If you and your partner decide to separate, how will you split the accounts?
  • How is your home titled?
  • If the home you live in is titled in one partner’s name:
    1. Did the non-owner partner contribute money to the purchase of the home?
    2. Does the non-owner pay any amounts to the mortgage for the property you are living in? What about for improvements on the home?
    3. Do these payments give the non-owner partner any ownership interests in the home?
  • If the home or other real property is owned jointly,
    1. Did each partner share the down payment and settlement costs equally and/or share the mortgage payments equally?
    2. If you sell the home, how will the equity be distributed? Will it be in proportion to the amount paid on the home by each, equally, or some other way? How do you determine the value of the house? How soon does it have to go on the market?
    3. If you separate, who will have the right of first refusal to purchase the home? In what amount of time?
    4. If one partner moves out, will that partner have to continue to contribute to the mortgage, utilities, etc.?
  • Is there property in the home that you brought into the household? Do you want the property to remain yours after a termination? This “separate property” could include family heirlooms or inherited property or property that just has sentimental value to you. Most couples have such property and agree that it belongs to the original owner.

Please check back for more information on Families and Potential Separations.


Real Property Series – Part 3 & 4 of 4: Dissolution & Conclusion

By B. Lafe Metz, Esq. & Tyler S. Dischinger, Esq.

This four part series addresses several broad issues encountered by nontraditional couples regarding the acquisition, ownership and transfer of real property. If you have not yet read part 1 or two, click here.  (See NOTE.)

  • In jurisdictions where nontraditional couples do not have the benefit of marriage statutes, they likewise do not have access to the corresponding divorce procedures. This makes for a more complicated and less predictable scenario should the two partners choose to part ways.
    Without a legal default to guide the way, it is important for the parties to be proactive by documenting their agreement about owning and maintaining the property, and keeping records of who has paid which expenses so each partner has evidence of his/her contribution to the jointly-owned property.
  • A formal joint tenancy or tenant in common agreement is often beneficial to establish a record of contributions, allocate responsibilities and benefits, and provide an agreed form of dispute resolution. While it is sometimes difficult for a couple to sit down and discuss business issues, especially early in a relationship, both partners and the relationship itself will ultimately benefit from clear communication and mutual understanding.
  • Ideally, each partner should be represented by independent counsel in the negotiation and execution of a joint tenancy or tenant in common agreement.


Nontraditional couples often own real property either as joint tenants with right of survivorship or as tenants in common. A discussion with counsel may help determine which approach is right for your family. Under either type of ownership, it is usually beneficial for the partners to enter into a written agreement addressing their respective ownership rights and obligations and providing mechanisms for future sales, leases, or mortgages of the property as well as dispute resolution procedures. If we may be helpful to your family in any way, please call Lafe Metz at 412-562-1044 or Tyler Dischinger at 412-562-1387.

President Obama Extends Hospital Visitation Rights for Same-Sex Couples

By Robert J. Tyler III, Esq.

On April 15, 2010, President Obama issued a memorandum requiring all hospitals that participate in Medicare and Medicaid (nearly all hospitals) to offer visitation rights for same-sex partners and spouses. The Presidential memo also requires the participating hospitals to respect the right of a patient to designate his or her same-sex partner or spouse as a durable power of attorney and health care proxy. These individuals are also to enjoy the same visitation privileges as immediate family members. Furthermore, participating hospitals may not deny visitation privileges on the basis of sexual orientation. These visitation rights also apply to unmarried heterosexual couples.

On September 7, 2011, the Director of the Department of Health & Human Services issued a nationwide directive implementing the policies outlined in the Presidential memo. Specifically, the directive lays out the following requirements regarding patient representation:

  • Notice of the patient’s rights must be given to the patient or the patient’s representative;
  • Patients (or their representatives) have the right to participate in the development and implementation of their plan of care;
  • The right to make informed decisions regarding the patient’s care may be exercised by the patient’s representative. This includes being informed about the patient’s health status, being involved in care planning and treatment, and being able to request or refuse treatment;
  • The patient has the right to formulate an advance directive, which may include the designation of a health care proxy; and
  • A family member or representative of the patient’s choice must be promptly notified of the patient’s admission to the hospital.

The hospitals must give deference to the patient’s wishes concerning his or her representative, whether expressed in writing, orally, or through other evidence.

In regards to visitation rights, participating hospitals are required to:

  • Provide notice to patients or their representativesof their visitation rights, including the right to receive, subject to the patient’s consent, visitors designated by the patient, including but not limited to a spouse, domestic partner (including a same-sex domestic partner), another family member, or friend. The notice must also advise of the patient’s right to withdraw or deny consent at any time;
  • Not restrict, limit, or deny visitation privileges based on race, color, national origin, religion, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, or disability; and
  • Ensure that all visitors enjoy full and equal visitation privileges consistent with the patient’s preferences.

With these new orders in place, same-sex couples now have the same visitation rights as traditional married couples.

It is important to note that in the absence of an advance directive designating a health care proxy, the wishes of the patient may not be able to be carried out, or even known. For this reason, we advise all individuals for whom these policies may be relevant to speak with an attorney about designating a health care proxy as a precautionary measure.