2015 marks the first year that same-sex marriages have been legal in the State of Florida. Accordingly, it also marks the first year that same-sex divorces have been legal in the Sunshine State.Prior to this year, same-sex couples who married in other states but lived in Florida, were not able to get divorced here. (In a bit of a catch-22, these couples were not able to get divorced in other states that did allow same-sex marriages, either, because they didn’t meet the residency requirement.)
That said, what unique issues do Florida same-sex couples face today during divorce? Most of the property division is standard to all divorcing couples, same-sex or heterosexual. The biggest LGBT family law challenges typically surround child custody (timesharing) issues.
The family court’s view is dependent on which party or parties have legal rights.
If both spouses have legal rights
If the child was born during the marriage and both spouses signed the birth certificate or the child born outside of the marriage and was adopted by both parties, or the child was born of one of the same sex parents and was legally adopted by the other same sex parent, then both spouses are the legal parents. In this case, the child custody (timesharing) proceedings will be the same as those for heterosexual couples- with the judge considering a variety of factors to determine the outcome in terms of the best interests of the child.
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If only one spouse has legal rights
In this situation, the other same sex spouse with no legal rights will likely have no parental rights (timesharing (visitation), custody, or the obligation to pay child support) at all. In Florida, specifically, without legal parental rights, you may not receive custody or timesharing (visitation).
Without legal rights, a shared custody agreement agreed on by both parties becomes extremely important. The law does not always take into account all the emotional issues surrounding situations, so it is critical to have something in writing that documents your desires.
Second parent adoption
Second parent adoptions maybe the best way to help secure the parental rights of the same sex spouses should they break up. They are advisable if the adoption occurs before marrying the spouse or if it is the biological child of one of the spouses. In some situations, a second parent adoption may need the consent of the third party biological parent and there cannot be two legal parents concurrently.
With same-sex divorces presenting their own unique issues, it is important to engage the services of a lawyer who has experience handling LGBT family law, such as The Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. We recognize that every situation is unique but remain focused on our goal of protecting the best interests of every child.
Board Certified Marital and Family Law Attorney Charles D. Jamieson understands that divorce is an extremely sensitive and important issue. Thanks to extensive experience and a focus on open communication, Attorney Jamieson adeptly addresses the complex issues surrounding divorce while delivering excellent personal service. To discuss marital separation agreements, please contact The Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. online or call 561-478-0312.
West Palm Beach Same Sex Marriage Divorce Law Firm