Ending a marriage is often a complicated process, especially when the couple has been together for quite a while. Dividing assets and debts and determining who gets custody of minor children may be even more complex when it comes to same-sex couples. There are a few significant differences a gay or lesbian couple in Pennsylvania might experience when they end their marriage.
Although same-sex marriage has only been legal in all states for a relatively short amount of time, gay and lesbian couples have been living together in committed relationships long before they were able to officially tie the knot. Couples that were only legally married for a couple of years may have owned property together, had joint bank accounts and been financially interdependent for decades. The court may decide to include the years a couple cohabitated or lived together under a domestic partnership agreement in determining factors like spousal support and division of assets.
Child custody may also be more complicated in same-sex divorces. When one spouse is the biological parent, it might be challenging for the other spouse to get custody or even parenting time with children they loved and raised their entire lives. Spouses who didn’t take the necessary legal steps to establish custody rights during the marriage by adopting the child or children may have a difficult time proving they should be given parental rights by a divorce court judge.
Same-sex couples have the same rights as heterosexual couples in divorce court. An attorney who focuses on same-sex couple and divorce could offer support and advocacy as a client’s case moves through the legal system. With the help of an experienced attorney, a client may be able to get the spousal support they deserve, parenting time with their children or a settlement commensurate with the time they were living as a married couple.