Family law for the LGBTQ community changed substantially with the June 26, 2015 landmark decision of the United States Supreme Court in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges, where the Court held that every state must allow and recognize same-sex marriages.
The fact that each individual state could legislate their own laws about gay marriage caused great confusion and inconsistency from state to state. Now that same-sex marriage is legal in every state, a gay or lesbian couple who get married in Illinois can cross over state lines into Missouri and still be considered married.
Benefits of Gay Marriage:
Marriage laws still may differ from state to state, but married LGBTQ couples in a specific state have the same legal benefits and responsibilities as married heterosexual couples.
Along with gay marriage comes the usual spousal benefits, like the right to own property jointly, file joint tax returns, and extend healthcare to your partner as a dependent, to name a few. Denial of any of these rights because of your sexual orientation is discrimination. Lawyers at the Law Office of Marta J. Papa, P.C. can help you enforce these legal rights.
Gay marriage is not the only option for showing your love and commitment toward your partner. Civil unions, domestic partnerships, and “Living Together Agreements” are still legally recognized commitments in our legal system. Our lawyers at Marta J. Papa, P.C. are well versed on the legal rights of the LGBTQ community to form such arrangements and can help you decide which path is right for you.
Along with gay marriage comes gay separation and gay divorce. If you are in a same-sex marriage and want to end the relationship with your partner, you must do so formally by following the “Dissolution of Marriage” statutes in your state. You cannot just break up; you must actually file for divorce. The Law Office of Marta J. Papa, P.C. has handled lesbian and gay divorces and helped couples divide their property, debt, and financial responsibilities, along with developing parenting plans for gay parents with minor children. There may not be 50 ways to leave your lover, but there are several processes that our legal system recognizes. In dissolving a same-sex union, you don’t have to hire two separate lawyers to battle it out in court.
Mediating Your Divorce:
The process of mediation is a much more respectful, amicable, and cost-effective way to dissolve your relationship. Our firm is a leader in using mediation to help gay and lesbian couples stay in control of the decision making, timing, and cost of their divorce or separation.
Although the same laws apply to gay divorce or separation, you may find that some legal practitioners and/or court personnel have their own biases that affect how you are treated during this difficult time. The lawyers at the Law Office of Marta J. Papa, P.C. are experts at divorce, respect your equal rights, and have experience representing and protecting the LGBTQ community. If your goal is to stay out of court, the mediation process allows you to make all the necessary decisions in the privacy of the mediator’s office with the mediator explaining the legal options available to you. After you have made your decisions, the mediator will summarize your agreement into a legal document that is presented to the court for its approval. In most cases, you never have to appear in court or ask the judge to make any decisions for you, which ensures you stay in control of your agreement. In addition, mediation allows you to move through the divorce process quickly and at a fraction of the usual cost of hiring two attorneys to argue for you.
Using Mediation to Plan Your Living Arrangement:
Mediation is also a very effective tool for you to plan your own living-together arrangements. Let our lawyers help you come to your own agreement about your expectations of living together. We can assist you in drafting enforceable “Living Together Agreements,” prenuptial agreements, or postnuptial agreements. Such documents spell out the rights and responsibilities of each partner in the unfortunate event of a break-up, separation, or divorce. Such agreements, when properly drafted by the knowledgeable lawyers at our firm, allow you to override many of the consequences of the Dissolution of Marriage Statutes. It is a way to get the most benefits out of the marriage laws, while staying in control of the consequences if you separate or divorce.
For more information about your rights and responsibilities under the Dissolution of Marriage Act, help in enforcing your marital rights, assistance in drafting your personalized Living Together Agreement or prenuptial agreement, or filing for separation or divorce, call the Office of Marta J. Papa, P.C. Ask us for a free packet of information or speak with one of our helpful staff members.