Q. How does the Supreme Court's decision to give legally married same-sex couples the same rights as heterosexual couples affect the children of same-sex couples in New York State?

A. New York already recognizes same-sex marriage, so the changes would affect federal programs that deal with families, says attorney Steven Eisman, co-chair of the matrimonial law department at Abrams, Fensterman in Lake Success.

Children would mostly feel effects indirectly if the benefits bolster the family's overall financial health, he says. For instance, there may be income-tax advantages, depending on the couple's circumstances. And, if one spouse dies, the other will be able to collect a spouse's federal Social Security benefits and be entitled to inheritance benefits, he says.

Not all the changes are economically beneficial -- for instance, the Free Application for Federal Student Aid form, known as the FAFSA, which determines parents' expected contribution to a child's college education, will now include the married partner's salary and assets, he says.

The benefits for children of gay couples also are psychological, says businessman Jon Cooper, a former Suffolk County legislator. He married his partner, Rob, on their 29th anniversary in 2009; they've raised five children, now ages 18 to 27.

"It's absolutely had a positive emotional impact for our kids, and the children of tens of thousands of other gay married couples across the country," Cooper says.

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