Same-Sex Divorce Attorneys in Garden City, New York
On June 26, 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all state bans on same-sex marriage, legalizing these unions in all fifty states, and requiring states to honor out-of-state same-sex marriage as well. The state of New York was well ahead of the federal government, passing the Marriage Equality Act on June 15, 2011, which legalized same-sex marriage. Prior to the legalization of same-sex marriage by the Supreme Court, the laws across the nation varied widely. In fact, prior to the Supreme Court ruling, at least 13 states still banned same-sex marriage.
Despite this, if a couple lived in one of those states, they could travel to a state or country which offered same-sex marriage. The couples who took advantage of this ended up facing difficult legal battles in their home state if they decided to divorce. Even today, spouses who have multiple registrations for domestic partnership or civil unions, or who were married prior to the Supreme Court Decision could face some legal issues when they attempt to divorce.
And, despite the fact that New York was definitely ahead of the curve in legalizing same-sex marriage, like many other states, the laws have not fully addressed same-sex divorce. Same-sex couples have the same issues as any other divorcing couple in that they may share a home, cars, bank accounts, retirement plans, and children, yet when the relationship comes to an end, there is no legal guidebook for splitting up. Although many issues related to a divorce are the same, regardless of whether the couple is same-sex or heterosexual, there are certain issues that require an attorney with specific experience and skill dealing with same-sex divorce.
The Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C., has dealt with same-sex divorce and has the necessary skills and knowledge of New York law. Attorney Katherine Ryan has a deep understanding of the matters associated with same-sex divorce and can successfully guide clients seeking a same-sex divorce through the process.
Reasons Behind Same-Sex Divorce
Same-sex marriages fall apart for many of the same reasons heterosexual marriages crumble, only same-sex couples will face a few added pressures as well. Even in our more enlightened society, same-sex couples can experience cultural pressure. The statistics for same-sex marriages, let alone divorces, are simply not yet available, due to the relative “newness” marriage equality laws. It is highly likely that the same marital problems exist: money issues, communication problems, infidelity, excessive arguing, unrealistic expectations, and feelings of lack of equality.
Unique Issues Faced by Same-Sex Couples Who are Divorcing
There are certain matters which can afford a same-sex couple and their respective attorneys extra challenges during a divorce, including:
- While heterosexual couples have a concrete time period for their marriage, same-sex couples may not, given their inability to marry, until recent years. A same-sex couple could have been together for thirty years, yet when it is time to divorce, the law may only recognize the five years since the Supreme Court decision, or, if the couple are long-time residents of New York, the nine years since New York passed the Marriage Equality Act. This means that if spousal support is an issue, the spouse requesting the support may not be able to legally show that he or she has been with the spouse for three decades. This can also affect the distribution of a retirement account and even the division of assets.
- Child custody may also be a challenging issue, since many same-sex couples adopt, or have biological children via a surrogate. The Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C. has specifically argued over preconception agreements and a biological parent’s and non-biological parent’s rights. A female in a same-sex marriage could have been artificially inseminated, giving birth to a child who is biologically “hers.” The other partner, despite possibly parenting the child since the day of his or her birth, may have no legal grounds for custody or even visitation, unless she legally adopted the child or can establish a pre-conception agreement.
Other Divorce Issues for Same-Sex Couples
Other than the issues listed above, a same-sex divorce proceeds largely in the same way as any divorce. Assets are divided, spousal support is determined, child custody is decided, and child support is determined.
- Asset division in New York: New York is an equitable distribution state which means the couple’s assets will not be divided right down the middle as they would in a community property state but will be divided fairly, based on such factors as:
- The length of the marriage;
- The income of each spouse;
- The property brought to the marriage by each spouse;
- Each spouse’s current income, as well as their income when they married;
- The age and health of each spouse;
- Whether the custodial parent will live in the family home;
- Pensions, health insurance, and inheritance rights of each spouse;
- Whether spousal maintenance has been awarded;
- Whether either spouse has dissipated marital assets;
- Whether either spouse has a claim to marital property based on contributions of labor, money, or efforts as a spouse, parent, wage earner, or homemaker;
- Whether either spouse contributed to the other’s earning potential;
- The probable financial circumstances of each spouse in the foreseeable future;
- Whether a business is a part of the marital property;
- The tax consequences to each spouse, and
- Any other factors the court deems worthy of consideration.
Spousal Maintenance and Child Custody and Support
As mentioned above, these issues can be difficult ones; spousal maintenance is based, to some extent, on the number of years the couple has been married, yet because of the laws governing same-sex marriage, this may not be an accurate number. Child custody, visitation and child support issues may have the same issues, in that families formed prior to the legalization of same-sex marriages may face obstacles if the child was adopted in another state, or if only one spouse adopted the child prior to the legal marriage. There can be significant challenges to the parental rights of the non-adoptive parent. The precedents in New York on the subject are very complex, so same-sex couples grappling with the issues associated with child custody, visitation, and child support definitely need to consult a New York Family Law attorney who can help sort out the issues. Child support and spousal maintenance can be estimated here.
How The Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C., Can Help with Your Same-Sex Divorce
If you are contemplating a same-sex divorce, it is extremely important that your New York family law attorney has experience in same-sex divorce, as well as knowledge of the laws governing the divorce. Attorney Katherine Ryan makes it a priority to provide a different level of service to her firm’s family law clients. Katherine believes in focusing on the whole client, making sure each and every client has the information and tools necessary to make decisions that could affect them for many years to come.
The Law Office of Katherine Ryan, P.C., believes in staying in touch with their clients, answering emails and phone calls in a timely manner. Katherine Ryan represents clients in Garden City, Stewart Manor, New Hyde Park, Mineola, Huntington, Melville, Woodbury, Commack, Smithtown, Syosset, Jericho, Roslyn, and Manhasset. Contact The Law Office of Katherine Ryan today for a comprehensive evaluation of your family law issue.