What Are the Legal Considerations for Same-Sex Divorce in New York?

two men with wedding rings

Up until 2015, same-sex marriage was not federally recognized. In fact, New York only legalized these unions four years prior in 2011. As such, there may be many considerations same-sex couples who are going through a divorce must make. Many couples in these circumstances are unaware if they are different than different-sex divorces in New York. If this reflects your circumstances, you’ll want to keep reading. The following blog explores what LGBTQ+ couples should know and why working with divorce attorneys in Nassau County is critical to ensuring you receive the best possible outcome for these unfortunate circumstances.

Are Same-Sex Divorces Different in New York?

In New York, same-sex couples are offered the same rights and protections as other couples. Because this union is legally recognized, couples have the right to proceed with a divorce in the same manner as different-sex couples. This includes filing the petition for divorce and serving their spouse the papers. The served spouse will then have the opportunity to agree to the terms or contest them, proceeding as usual.

Generally, there is only one difference that LGBTQ+ couples may experience as opposed to others. One of the major concerns is that gay marriage wasn’t legal in New York until 2011, meaning many couples may have lived together for years before officially getting married. As such, determining who owns each asset or what is marital property can make dividing marital assets more complex, as they likely intertwined assets before they were legally married.

What Else Should I Consider When Divorcing My Spouse?

While everything legally functions the same for LGBTQ+ couples seeking a divorce in New York, there are unique considerations these couples must make. One of the most important things you must consider is child custody. If one partner has a biological child who was legally adopted by the other, then child custody will be split based on the best interest of the child. Additionally, the adoptive parent will still be legally required to pay child support if they do not have primary custody.

However, if the other parent did not adopt their spouse’s biological child, they have no legal right to custody or visitation. Additionally, they are not legally obligated to pay child support. This can leave the other parent in a tough financial situation, as they may find themselves suffering without the financial support of their spouse who may have contributed to their childcare.

Though there are very few differences between same-sex and different-sex marriages, the most important thing you must do in this situation is to contact an experienced divorce attorney. Because there are many considerations to make during this process that can impact child custody, property distribution, and finances, letting an attorney well-versed in these issues handle these issues is critical. The team at Barrows Levy, PLLC, is ready to assist you through these complex legal matters. Contact us today to learn how we can help you through these challenging times.

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