LGBT Divorce and Custody Proceedings – Authorized Household Regulation Blogs for Gays and Lesbians Posted by Kelly M. Davidzuk, Esq.

In 2015, the Supreme Court made the landmark decision that same-sex marriages were legal in the United States. As a result of this decision, married LGBT couples were entitled to the same benefits as heterosexual couples, such as social security benefits, tax exemptions, insurance benefits and the right to make medical decisions or to be present in the hospital for a spouse.

Suddenly, prohibited couples flocked to courthouses across the country to say “yes” to their partners. It has been and remains a joyful and important part of our nation’s history, and we celebrate it and other triumphs of the LGBT community every June during Pride Month.

Because so many people feared the decision would be reversed, many of them got married without waiting as long as they would normally have to see if they would be a match for their partner in the long term. Unfortunately, not all marriages, whether gay or straight, are designed “until death do us part”. Many legal questions about divorce in LGBT marriages have arisen in the wake of the Supreme Court decision. Here’s what you need to know if you and your partner are planning a divorce, especially when there are children and custody issues to consider.

Basic divorce law

Because LGBT people have the same rights to marry as heterosexual couples, their divorces work in a similar way. As with heterosexual marriages, partners seeking divorce must have lived in the state in which they are filing for divorce for at least six (6) months. For married couples who want to get divorced, it makes sense to consult a lawyer. There are other regulations as well, and a licensed attorney, such as the professionals at the Stange law firm, are best placed to guide you through the process for your state.

Real estate department

With many LGBT spouses married prior to the 2015 ruling, the division of property and wealth becomes a little more complex. In the event of a divorce, the judge separates the acquired assets and debts. If a couple was married before gay marriage was legalized in 2015, an unfavorable or unfair settlement can result. Until the system is better equipped to handle general property claims related to the Supreme Court ruling, it is primarily at the discretion of the judge. While the division of property and assets can vary from state to state and is based on a state’s “communal property” laws, having an attorney by your side is critical to understanding the details of the system.

Child support and custody

Since tensions are high with any divorce, there is likely to be intense disagreement or disputes over custody; This is especially true for LGBT couples looking to get divorced. Because the children of an LGBT couple are either adopted or the birth child of one or the other partner, the birth parents of the child (ren) may employ the same discriminatory practices and laws that will harm the LGBT community and children for many years . With many LGBT couples adopting children under one parent long before marriage was legalized in their community, it could be next to impossible to have the child adopted after the marriage was dissolved. The reason for this thinking is that many courts in the country would not allow custody or visiting rights in any form if a partner were never legally considered a parent of a child. This is also the case with partners in whom the child is biologically related to only one parent. This is heartbreaking for the spouse, who may have been fundamentally involved in the upbringing of the child (s) but was never considered the rightful parent. This is also devastating for the child (ren) involved in the divorce. Parental divorce in itself is traumatic. With the added prospect of never seeing one of her parents again, the trauma worsens significantly.

For this reason, it is important that you and your ex-partner try to resolve your issues out of court to avoid a nasty legal battle that could be harmful to the child (ren) in the case. Establishing a plan or schedule for co-parenting or legal adoption of the child (ren) by the birth spouse can help alleviate the disagreements that might arise during a custody hearing.

The only case where we at Stange Law Firm do not promote a peaceful solution between both parties is domestic abuse of a spouse or child (the children); In this case, the divorce looks very different and requires a different approach.

Maintenance and spousal maintenance

This is another situation where settlement issues are incredibly complex. Since many LGBT couples were together before 2015, which many would consider a marriage that accepts the certificate, calculating alimony or spousal alimony is difficult. A judge will attempt to distribute the alimony fairly, but without an attorney to represent your interests, it will be difficult to convey the nuance necessary to successfully represent your case in court.


As with custody, it is always preferable to try to mediate out of court or reach an agreement before engaging in a lengthy and emotionally grueling dispute with a spouse over property and children. To avoid any turmoil and stress, a lawyer can encourage mediation and act on your behalf to continue to advance your interests and find a compromise with your ex-spouse or their lawyer.

Empathy and vigorous legal defense

At Stange Law Firm, we support the right of everyone to love who they want and, like heterosexual couples, to marry who they want. We also understand that not every relationship is perfect and some end in divorce, even LGBT relationships. For this reason, we do not discriminate based on characteristics such as age, race, gender identification, sexual orientation, creed or religion.

We know the legal systems after the historic judgment of 2015 and are ready to represent your interests in or out of court. Please contact us today so we can begin your divorce or custody.

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