At the Law Firm of Charles D. Jamieson, P.A. we believe that every family is unique and special and that everyone deserves access to outstanding legal representation. We know that nothing is more important to you than your family. Gay and LGBT family law is constantly evolving. Since January 2015, Palm Beach County has recognized same-sex marriages and same-sex divorce.
When your same-sex marriage ends, you want a lawyer who can help you with all the issues related to your marriage dissolution. Even if you and your ex agree on most aspects of your split, seeking the counsel of an experienced divorce attorney is always wise. If your divorce is contentious, you need a strong advocate by your side to protect your rights and property. Our firm works closely with our clients at all stages of the divorce process. From establishing temporary orders through post-judgment requests for modification, a West Palm Beach LGBT divorce lawyer could help you understand your options and make educated choices pursuing them.
State Follows Equitable Distribution Doctrine
Some states divide marital assets equally when a marriage breaks up, but Florida Statutes § 61.075 establishes the policy of equitable distribution. This doctrine says that the asset distribution should be fair or equitable rather than equal.
According to the law, each usually party keeps the assets they had when they entered the marriage. Individual assets also include gifts and inheritances each partner received during the marriage. All other assets the couple acquired while married are the property of both partners.
A Palm Beach County judge will assume that the marital assets should be divided equally and then adjust if necessary. Factors that might influence asset distribution include how the length of the marriage, their relative contributions to the marriage, whether one partner gave up their career or education to support the other, and similar considerations. Couples usually benefit by agreeing on a fair asset distribution plan, rather than having a judge decide.
A qualified West Palm Beach LGBT divorce litigator could review the facts of your case and help you determine the best course of action for your circumstances.
Contentious Issues in Property Division
Some issues relating to dividing marital property are especially likely to become contentious. Sometimes one spouse feels a strong attachment to a particular asset and is unwilling to share it with their ex-spouse. Spouses also have an incentive to hide assets or misstate their value because a judge considers the relative worth of each partner’s assets when deciding issues of spousal support (alimony).
For example, if one partner owns a business, at least part of its value is likely a marital asset. The business owner might try to discount the business’ value to avoid having to sell it to provide the partner their share of its value. Similarly, when one partner retains the marital home, the other partner might inflate the home’s value to limit the amount of other assets they must share.
A savvy West Palm Beach same-sex divorce attorney is adept at exposing attempts to inflate or discount an asset’s value. They could ensure that assets are valued correctly, and the spouse gets their fair share.
Child Custody Issues in LGBT Divorce
When couples divorce, either parent may seek majority timesharing (child custody/visitation). The majority timesharing parent is the one the child lives with most of the time, and the other parent has visitation rights. Parents who agree to split parenting time roughly equally could seek joint custody.
Gay couples must recognize that parental rights do not come automatically to a child’s non-biological parent. If one partner is a biological parent to a child, the other partner does not have parental rights unless:
- The child was born during the marriage, and both spouses signed the birth certificate
- The non-biological parent legally adopted the child
Difficulties could arise when one partner has a biological child from a prior marriage or relationship, and their current same-sex spouse has an emotional connection with that child. There is no legal right for that spouse to maintain the relationship after the divorce from the biological parent but doing so often is in the child’s best interest. An attorney in West Palm Beach County could help a divorcing couple craft an agreement that honors the relationship between the former spouse and the child.
Seek an Experienced West Palm Beach Same-Sex Divorce Attorney
Although the law does not treat divorcing couples differently based on sexuality, same-sex couples might have some concerns unique to their relationships. It is important to work with an advocate who can empathize with those concerns.
A West Palm Beach LGBT divorce lawyer is experienced in handling the dissolution of same-sex unions. Call today to get a knowledgeable advocate on your side.