A divorce is a difficult situation, even when both partners agree that the marriage is no longer viable. Partners often feel grief, anger, and many other emotions, which is why it is helpful to retain a divorce attorney.
If you and your same-sex spouse divorce, the courts will treat you just like any other divorcing couple. However, some issues unique to gay relationships might come up in your case. A Boca Raton LGBT divorce lawyer has the experience to guide you through any difficulties and the legal knowledge to ensure that your divorce settlement is fair. Get in touch with a seasoned divorce attorney today to get started.
When a couple decides to end their marriage, at least one of the partners must file a petition of divorce with the court. A spouse must file this petition even if the divorce is uncontested and the couple agrees about the division of property, timeshare (child custody / visitation) , and other relevant issues. The petitioning spouse must have been a resident of the state for at least six months before filing the petition, and they must file the petition in the jurisdiction where they live.
Grounds for Divorce
Florida is a no-fault divorce state, which means neither spouse must prove that the other did something to cause the breakdown of the marriage. However, Florida Statute § 61.052 requires at least one of the spouses to assert legal grounds for divorce. In most cases, they assert that the marriage is irretrievably broken—meaning they do not need to disclose why they reached that conclusion.
The other legal ground for divorce is mental incapacity, for which the petitioning spouse must provide a court order finding other spouse is mentally incapacitated. If such a finding has been made by a guardianship action, divorce will be altered.
If both spouses agree to divorce, the divorce is uncontested. The spouses will try to decide how to divide their property and handle child issues (decision making, timeshare (child custody/visitation), parental decision making and other decisions in marital account) if they have children. If the couple cannot reach an agreement on these issues, a court will likely order mediation to facilitate a settlement. As a last resort, a judge will decide these issues.
If only one party wants the divorce and the other wants to remain married or the parties are unable to come to an agreement regarding their issues in their divorce, the divorce is contested. A judge might order the spouses into marriage counseling or order a mental health examination of one or both partners. While the divorce proceedings are ongoing, the judge will make temporary arrangements for timesharing (child custody/visitation) and spousal support.
A qualified Boca Raton LGBT divorce attorney could further explain these distinctions and how they apply to a specific case.
Couples Benefit From Trying to Agree
Judges prefer not to make decisions regarding property division, child custody, and spousal support. Instead, they will encourage the couple and their attorneys to come to agreement on these issues. The couple is in a far better position to decide what is fair and what will work for them than the judge is. If the spouses cannot agree on their own with their attorneys’ help, judges frequently order the couple into mediation.
Under Florida law, marital property division need not be equal but must be fair/equitable. Fairness considers each party’s economic status, the length of the marriage, each party’s contributions to the marriage, whether one party interrupted schooling or a career during the marriage, and other relevant issues.
Timesharing (child custody/visitation) laws in the state do not favor one parent over the other. Instead, each parent has an equal right to be a parent. Depending on the parents’ circumstances and the child’s best interests, parents could decide to share timeshare (child custody/visitation) or assign one parent primary physical custody. In rare cases, if one parent can prove the other is violent, abusive, or has an active substance abuse problem, a parent might obtain sole timesharing.
Experienced LGBT divorce attorneys who serve Boca Raton could review a case and help all parties come to a fair decision.
Issues That Could Arise in Same-Sex Divorce
Although the law does not distinguish between same-sex and opposite-sex divorce, certain issues are more likely to arise when dissolving same-sex unions. An attorney who has handled LGBT divorces in Boca Raton could anticipate these issues and help the spouse prepare a strategy to deal with them.
For example, marriage between same-sex partners has only been legal in Florida since 2015, but a couple might have been in a committed relationship for decades before they could marry. An equitable asset/liability distribution would not reflect the years the partners lived as a couple, rather pursuant to current Florida law would only consider a much shorter length of the marriage, during which very few assets were accumulated by a partner.
Child custody issues can be especially difficult if one partner is a biological parent and the other is not. If the child was born during the marriage and both parents sign the birth certificate, both parents have equal legal rights. Similarly, if the non-biological parent adopts the child, the adoptive parent’s rights are equal to that of the biological parent. Spouses would share equal legal rights if they adopted a child not related to either of them biologically; for instance if they adopted a foster child.
Put Your Trust in a Boca Raton LGBT Divorce Attorney
Divorce is always difficult, even in the best circumstances. Whether you and your spouse agree or are fighting tooth and nail, you need a diligent and reliable legal professional to help you through the process.
A Boca Raton LGBT divorce lawyer could take your needs to heart and ensure you leave the marriage with everything you are entitled to. Call today to schedule a consultation.