While the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges legalized LGBTQ marriage nationwide in 2015, state legislators are still playing catch-up when it comes to updating family law with this ruling in mind. Georgia has made a few strides here and there, but there are still many places in which outdated statutes and precedents can make pursuing a divorce from a same-sex or gender non-conforming partner unfairly complicated.
Fortunately, help is available from a seasoned Fulton County LGBTQ divorce lawyer who has guided individuals like you through similar situations. By working with a divorce attorney who knows the ins and outs of state law and how to navigate around them in a way that protects your best interests, you could have a much easier time dissolving your marriage amicably and efficiently.
For a long time, any parent who did not have a biological or adoptive relationship with their spouse’s child – a category which naturally included many LGBTQ individuals – had virtually no way to convince a court to grant them custody or visitation rights if that relationship ended. However, this is one of the few areas where the state legislature has taken significant steps to mitigate a problem often faced by divorcing members of the LGBTQ community.
In 2019, the passage of House Bill 243 into law made it so that non-biological parents in Georgia could petition for custody or visitation rights based on their role in the child’s life. While ostensibly meant to make it easier for stepparents to seek custody rights, this bill has the added effect of clarifying how an LGBTQ individual could seek custody or visitation rights for the child of their former spouse, even without a biological or adoptive relationship. Pursuing custody rights on these grounds is just one of many issues a Fulton County attorney can help divorcing LGBTQ couples with.
Unfortunately, state law does not technically consider same-sex marriages between Georgia residents to have legally begun until 2015, making the process of dissolving a marriage more complicated for LGBTQ individuals who were in a civil union, partnership, or marriage recognized in another state prior to 2015.
For example, the length of the marriage in question is one of the primary factors that courts take into consideration when deciding whether to award alimony to either party, so it is often very challenging for LGBTQ couples to receive appropriate spousal support after dissolving their marriage. Furthermore, since local courts only consider property acquired during a marriage to be divisible during an ensuing divorce, any property that an LGBTQ couple acquired before 2015 may not be considered “marital property.” This can significantly complicate the asset division process. Fortunately, a local lawyer can help LGBTQ couples resolve all of these issues and pursue a favorable divorce outcome.
In strict legal terms, a divorce between LGBTQ individuals is no different than one between heterosexual individuals in the state of Georgia. In practical terms, however, there are plenty of difficulties that LGBTQ couple face during the divorce process that heterosexual couples may not even have to consider, any of which could drag out the entire proceeding and pile stress and heartache onto everyone involved.
If you want to ensure your divorce from your partner proceeds as smoothly as possible, you should strongly consider retaining an experienced Fulton County LGBTQ divorce lawyer from our firm. Schedule a private consultation by calling our intake team today.