Quatela Chimeri, PLLC

The unique challenges of LGBT divorce cases

Divorce is a difficult situation for all couples, regardless of sexual orientation. However, LGBT couples face some challenges that are unique to the fact that they are in a same-sex marriage. 

Here are just a few of the most common issues that same-sex couples face when they decide to divorce. If you are in the process of pursuing a same-sex divorce, these issues can be conversation starters for you and your attorney as you navigate the process.

Child custody

In a heterosexual marriage, courts see parental roles divided between a mother and a father, without having to determine which parent takes on which role. However, in same-sex marriages, because there are either two mothers or two fathers, it brings up an issue that is unique to these marriages: determining which of the two is the "primary." This is particularly important if a divorce case goes to court and child custody is at stake. Would being the "other mother" or "other father" - which does not even necessarily mean not the biological mother or father - affect the outcome of a custody decision? This is an important question to discuss with your attorney.

Lawyers who work on same-sex cases

When New York passed the Marriage Equality Act, many attorneys began offering their services tailored specifically to same-sex couples. Not all lawyers, however, understand the unique challenges that same-sex couples face when they decide to divorce. This is where doing a bit of research before hiring the right attorney can make a big difference in the outcome.

Before just choosing any attorney offering his or her services specifically for same-sex couples, check on how much experience the attorney has with these types of cases. Lawyers who have been working with LGBT couples in divorce cases over decades generally have a more detailed and intimate grasp of the complex nature of these cases. That type of experience can be a huge benefit, especially in a high-asset divorce where there is a lot at stake financially.

If you have an attorney who sees your same-sex divorce as "just another case" like all the others, it may be in your best interest to get a second opinion. The unique challenges you face in terms of dividing assets and assigning child custody and visitation, if there are children, call for a higher standard of legal experience.



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