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Just like heterosexual persons, LGBT (Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered) individuals face family law issues too. Family units and spouses in LGBT unions deal with issues such as adoption, divorce, prenuptial and postnuptial agreements, marriage, and any other family law-related issues. Currently, about 30 states in the US recognize same-sex marriage, including New York.
Divorce laws are the same for all marriages in the state of New York, irrespective of the sexual orientation of your marriage. There may be a few differences in other states depending on whether or not these states permit and recognize same-sex marriages. There are a few instances where LGBT couples may encounter a few complications.
Residing in Another State
If you get married in New York while residing in New York and then move to another state where same-sex marriages are not recognized (Florida, for instance), you will not be able to get a divorce. You will have to relocate back to New York or move to another state that doesn’t prohibit same-sex marriages. Keep that in mind.
If you choose to move to another state — other than New York, you might want to check with the state’s residency requirements before you move. You will have to comply with the state’s residency requirements before you can file and finalize your divorce. In California, for instance, requires a residency of six months before a divorce can be filed.
Laws Keep Changing
Though all laws are subject to change at any given time, laws governing same-sex marriages tend to change faster relative to heterosexual marriages. It’s a relatively new area of US law, and any scenario that hasn’t been experienced before has the potential to initiate a review of current laws. For instance, it can get particularly confusing when it comes to issues to do with child custody.
Courts don’t have a lot of experience dealing with child custody issues in an LGBT union. There is a lot of bias when there are two moms or two dads. However, with good representation, there is a way of resolving this issue and depending on the situation, spouses can get joint custody. Such cases need representation from very experienced independent legal counsel even to keep up with the changing laws.
Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
Both a prenuptial and postnuptial agreement have a similar purpose — to protect individual assets and property that a spouse may have brought into the marriage. It’s always a good idea to be prepared for the worst-case scenario, and couples can choose to use a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement to do so. These documents separate individual property from marital property — split in half in the event of a divorce. The only difference between the two is that a prenuptial agreement is signed before the wedding and a postnuptial agreement is signed after the wedding.
Why You Need a Lawyer
LGBT couples face similar family issues that heterosexual couples face. At some point, you will certainly need the services of a family lawyer with a lot of experience on LGTB matters. Whether you are adopting a child, filing for divorce, or drafting a postnuptial agreement, you will require the services of a lawyer. Before you hire a lawyer, do your homework. Make sure they have enough experience in same-sex marriages. If you live in Staten Island, look no further than Staten Island Gay & LGBT Family Law Lawyers.