Montgomery County Same-Sex Marriage Dissolutions Attorney
After much debate and consternation, marriage equality is the law of the land in Pennsylvania. Same-sex couples now have the same legal rights to marry and divorce that heterosexual couples have enjoyed for hundreds of years. However, in terms of family law, there are additional items to consider. The issues involved in same-sex divorces are often different from the issues in heterosexual divorces. A good family law attorney must recognize, appreciate, and adjust to these differences.
The dedicated Montgomery County same-sex marriage dissolution attorneys at Kardos, Rickles & Hand work hard to resolve these issues in ways that uphold our clients’ legal and financial rights. We diligently search for evidence which supports your claims and defenses. Then, we leverage this evidence during court hearings and pretrial negotiation sessions. This diligence usually allows us to resolve even complex cases out of court, and on favorable terms.
Although Pennsylvania’s Family Support Obligation (FSO) laws have been substantially revamped, they still fundamentally assume that there is a financially independent and financially dependent spouse, at least to an extent. That’s almost never the case in same-sex unions. So, rather than trying to hammer a round peg into a square hole, we adjust.
Offsets resolve many of these disputes. For example, one spouse might agree to more alimony in exchange for less ownership of a retirement account.
Family businesses could be different as well. Generally, divorce decrees order these businesses sold and the proceeds divided between the parties. That’s not necessarily the best resolution in same-sex divorces. Frequently, it’s better to keep the business active and divide future proceeds between the former spouses.
This division is not always straightforward, as ownership is usually murky. Business goodwill is a good example. If the goodwill comes from the name itself (McDonald’s), the goodwill is usually marital property which is subject to an equitable division. If the goodwill is personal (John Smith, Accountant), the good will is usually nonmarital property, even if both spouses were involved in the business.
FSOs and property division must be equitable in Pennsylvania. The divorce must not be an unfair financial burden on either spouse.
Many same-sex couples involve stepchildren, particularly if either spouse has been married before. Frequently, the other parents voluntarily relinquish their parental rights. Paving the way for stepparent adoption. Sometimes, however, this process is incomplete at the time of divorce. Or, the arrangement was more informal. In these situations, child custody matters are quite thorny. Three adults, the divorcing spouses and the other biological parent, could have legal rights.
If that happens, the judge usually makes a preliminary custody determination during the temporary hearing. This hearing usually occurs about two weeks after someone files divorce. Since so little time has elapsed, there is not much evidence. So, solid advocacy is critical at this stage.
Frequently, evidence on this point usually involves a social services investigation. A social worker evaluates the family’s situation and makes a custody/visitation recommendation. This recommendation is not binding, but it is very weighty.
Reach Out to an Experienced Attorney
Same-sex marriage dissolutions involve unique emotional and fianancial issues. For a confidential consultation with an experienced family law attorney in Montgomery County, contact Kardos, Rickles & Hand. We routinely handle matters in Pennsylvania and New Jersey.