With the Supreme Court’s recent ruling in Obergefell, same-sex marriage is now legal throughout the United States. That question is now resolved, but there are many more questions that it raises for attorneys practicing family law. New couples unfortunately also mean new clients when it comes time for those couples to file for divorce.
How, and if, Courts in Virginia and Maryland will deal with issues specific to same-sex marriages raises some issues. Though same-sex marriage may now be legal, those couples did not previously exist only in theory. People who were unable to marry still operated as if they were married; they lived together, owned property together, pooled their salaries, helped each other get through college, and raised children together.
Typically in a divorce, we look to see who owns “separate” property and what property needs to be split up. If you were a recently married same-sex couple who had been together for five years previously, there are hidden legal landmines to consider when you are filing for divorce. How will the Court treat the home you lived in together but was titled in his name? The code might call that “separate” property, but is that really fair under the circumstances? A lot of new factual scenarios will need to be addressed in the Courts as those who previously lived in the shadows are now able to fully benefit from all aspects of the law.
LGBT couples also have raised children together. Though some of these cases have made an early appearance in our court systems, how the addition of Obergefell will affect the legal landscape for such cases remains to be seen. Our hope is that it will not. The guiding principle in all custody matters is the “best interests of the child,” which should transcend all other issues. These legal issues, especially custody concerns, require an aggressive and knowledgeable attorney to assist you. It should never be taken lightly, no matter who you are.
If you are dealing with same sex marriage, or other LGBTQ issues, such as a divorce or custody matter in Virginia or Maryland, our same sex marriage lawyers can help. Our firm has office locations in Fairfax, Manassas, and Richmond. B