Experienced LGBTQ Family Lawyer in Delaware County, PA Manages Divorce and Family Matters for Same-Sex Couples in Media, Springfield, Radnor, Chester County, Montgomery County, and Throughout Southeast Pennsylvania
Prior to 2015, the rights of same-sex couples were governed by a patchwork of different laws in different jurisdictions. Then the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges established the right of same-sex marriage across the country. Today, there is no difference in the way courts treat marriages between traditional couples and same-sex couples. However, there are certain wrinkles in the laws covering parent-child relationships that parties to same-sex unions need to know about. At Louis Wm. Martini, Jr., P.C., we provide complete family law services for same-sex couples. You can be confident in our knowledge and experience, as well as our sensitive and respectful management of your issues, as we work toward a positive resolution.
Dissolving a Same-Sex Marriage or Domestic Partnership in Delaware County
Because there is no longer a legal distinction between types of unions, a couple seeking to dissolve a same-sex marriage goes through the same divorce process as any other couple. One party petitions for the divorce and the other responds. The process proceeds with the couple working to resolve the necessary issues:
- Alimony — The decision to grant alimony is based on numerous factors, but the court does not consider the genders of the parties. Key to any alimony award is the length of the union, the standard of living the couple enjoyed during the union, and the relative earning capacities of the parties. Where same-sex couples may have an issue is the question of the length of the union. Since same-sex marriage was not legal until very recently, a party seeking alimony must ask the court to consider the years the couple spent together before formal matrimony. The case is stronger if the couple had been in a domestic partnership before the marriage.
- Child custody — Again, the same laws of child custody apply, but only if each party to the union is a legal parent of the children. Historically, this has been a problem for same-sex couples. Parties who cannot adopt their partner’s children because a natural parent still has rights are treated similarly to stepparents under the law, and can be allowed visitation if a court decides it is in the best interests of the children. Same-sex couples who had children during the marriage through surrogacy, but are not the biological parent, must make sure they have taken the necessary legal steps through the adoption process to establish parental rights.
- Child support — A party is only obligated to pay support if he or she is a legal parent of the child(ren). Conversely, a parent can only ask the court for an award of child support from a legal parent.
- Division of property — Pennsylvania is an equitable distribution state. Parties to a divorce can keep their separate property, and the court divides assets and debts belonging to the marital estate in a manner it deems fair, though not necessarily equally.
The process for dissolving a domestic partnership is essentially the same as a divorce. It is not necessary to dissolve a domestic partnership before entering into marriage with the same person.
We understand how difficult it is to dissolve a relationship that was so meaningful to your life. We provide personalized, sensitive, and professional service throughout the legal process.
Same-Sex Couple Adoption Rights in Media, PA
Our firm assists same-sex couples looking to start a family or provide legal protections for existing loving relationships. Adoption laws apply equally to same-sex couples, meaning a same-sex couple must go through the same process, passing a home study by a licensed provider. However, laws of the commonwealth do not compel agencies or adoptive parents to treat same-sex couples on an equal footing with traditional couples. Birth mothers considering open adoptions may also have reservations about placing a child with a same-sex couple. We regularly guide our clients to agencies and home study providers who treat them with equal dignity.
In households where one partner is the natural parent of a child, the other partner must establish parental rights or risk losing custody or visitation in the event of divorce. Stepparent adoptions are the commonly used process. However, since a child can only have two legal parents, a stepparent adoption is only possible when the other natural parent is deceased or has parental rights terminated.
Prenuptial Agreements for Same-Sex Couples in Media, PA
Same-sex couples are no different from other couples when it comes to the necessity of protecting their property rights in the event of divorce. We assist our clients by negotiating and drafting valid prenuptial agreements that secure their assets and deliver peace of mind.
Contact an Experienced Media, PA Family Law Attorney for Same-Sex Couple Representation
Louis Wm. Martini, Jr., P.C. provides professional and personalized family law services for clients in same-sex relationships. Call us at 610-632-6203 or contact our office online to schedule a free consultation. We are conveniently located at 206 West State Street, just a few short blocks from the Delaware County Courthouse.