LGBTQ couples across Tennessee celebrated when the state recognized same-sex marriages. With the right to marry came the same legal right to dissolve their marriage as their heterosexual counterparts.
Divorce is difficult for everyone involved and may be especially challenging for LGBTQ couples. As you navigate one of the most painful times in your life, a compassionate Hamilton County LGBTQ divorce lawyer could be a trusted legal advocate. Our seasoned divorce attorneys understand the complexities of dissolving same-sex unions and could work to ensure the best possible outcome in your case.
Like other divorcing couples, LGBTQ spouses will experience emotional turmoil, financial complications, and concerns about their children’s custody post-separation. Some of the matters same-sex couples must address as they dissolve their marriage include:
Although the concerns may be similar, a same-sex couple’s situation may be more complicated, particularly if it is contested. A practiced attorney in Hamilton County could properly manage all matters for a divorcing spouse and guide them through the LGBTQ marriage dissolution.
Under state law, family court judges must divide marital assets and debts equitably, although not necessarily equally. The law defines marital property as those assets the couple acquired during their marriage. Additionally, one of the primary considerations in property division is the length of the couple’s marriage.
Because of the relatively recent recognition of same-sex unions under the Marriage Equality Act, many LGBTQ couples legally married after years together as unmarried but committed partners. Consequently, the accrual of separate and marital property can complicate what is considered marital property subject to division. Unless the couple executed a prenuptial or postnuptial marital contract, they might have difficulty resolving their financial disputes if they end their relationship.
Alimony awards also rely significantly on the duration of the marriage. As such, a same-sex partner who left a lucrative career to care for the couple’s home and children long before the parties had the right to wed legally could be disadvantaged in terms of post-divorce financial support. A lawyer practiced in LGBTQ divorce issues in Hamilton County understands these complexities and how to resolve them favorably under current law.
In theory, a court should not approach a case with any preconceived ideas about custodial placement based on the parent’s sexual orientation or gender identity. As such, the best interests of the child standard should control custody and visitation disputes for same-sex couples. To determine best interests, family court judges must assess factors outlined in Tennessee Code Annotated §36-6-106, such as each parent’s ability to meet the child’s needs, the couple’s ability to communicate about their child, and the child’s developmental level.
Unfortunately, some judges may still have unspoken biases against LGBTQ parents, particularly when one spouse is not biologically related to the child. The parent who gave birth to the child may receive preferential treatment to the detriment of the other parent and the child. A dedicated local lawyer could advocate for a spouse’s right to parent their children, regardless of the biological connection.
Although a legal representative representing LGBTQ spouses does not necessarily have to be a member of the community, they should have substantial experience in representing LGBTQ clients. Your lawyer should be familiar with the unique challenges you face as you resolve your marital issues.
If you and your spouse have decided to end your marriage, a knowledgeable Hamilton County LGBTQ divorce attorney could advocate for your equal rights to your children, property, and spousal support. Contact our trusted legal team today for zealous and compassionate representation for all marriage dissolution matters.