Essex County Same-Sex Divorce Lawyer
New Jersey courts officially recognized same-sex marriages in 2013, two years before the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples nationwide have the fundamental right to marry under the Constitution. With the legalization of same-sex marriage came the legalization of same-sex divorce, a unique area of law with many challenging issues. When a married LGBTQ couple divorces, they may potentially face legal problems that differ significantly from those in divorce cases involving heterosexual couples. It is important to work with a divorce lawyer who has experience with cases like yours.
Divorce for Same-Sex Spouses in New Jersey
Same-sex marriages in New Jersey are identical to marriages between heterosexual couples in the eyes of the law. As such, a same-sex married couple may divorce for the same reasons as a heterosexual couple, following all the same procedures. As family law courts began recognizing “irreconcilable differences” as an acceptable ground for divorce in 2007, divorcing couples no longer need to plead infidelity, desertion, or any other type of fault to begin the process of dissolving that marriage. However, there are certain issues that may require the help of an Essex County same-sex divorce lawyer.
Equitable Distribution of Marital Property
New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, meaning that marital property will be divided fairly, though not necessarily equally. Because same-sex marriage in New Jersey was only permitted in 2013, couples may face difficulty because the length of the marriage is an important factor the courts consider when dividing marital property. Additionally, property that may have been shared or gained together as a couple before legal marriage may become difficult to separate.
The issue of alimony can become complicated in the case of same-sex marriage as the couple may have been in a committed relationship for many years before state law allowed them to marry. An Essex County same-sex divorce attorney may argue that the total duration of the relationship, not just the marriage, should be used in calculating alimony.
Child Custody & Visitation
One of the most challenging issues that an Essex County same-same divorce lawyer is likely to face is that of child custody when an LGBTQ married couple has a child and decides to end their marriage. As many children of same-sex marriages are biologically related to just one of the spouses, the other spouse may have difficulty securing custody or visitation rights after the marriage is terminated.
Domestic Partnerships & Civil Unions
While same-sex marriage is now legal in New Jersey and all 50 states, gay couples in New Jersey also have the option of entering into domestic partnerships which is an arrangement similar to marriage but lacking some of the distinct benefits. Also, a same-sex couple who had obtained a civil union before gay marriage became legal in 2013 may elect to remain in a civil union and not marry. Dissolving a domestic partnership in New Jersey generally has the same procedures involving a same-sex marriage or civil union except there may be fewer issues as domestic partners have fewer legal rights with respect to one another.
Contact an Essex County Same-Sex Divorce Lawyer Today
If you are in a same-sex marriage and facing the prospect of divorce, then it may be reassuring to know the services of an Essex County same-sex divorce lawyer could help increase your chances of a positive outcome. Contact a local lawyer today for information on your legal options. Your case is unique and deserves the care and attention of an experienced divorce attorney.