With legal recognition of same-sex marriage when the United States Supreme Court decided Obergefell v Hodges in 2015, comes the legal issues that may accompany adoption, separation, divorce and other family law matters in North Carolina. The issues that may now factor into a same-sex separation are many of the issues that heterosexual couples experience (e.g., divorce, child custody, child support, spousal support, alimony, and property settlement and equitable distribution). However, the legal implications for the LGBTQ citizens of North Carolina may not be as clear.
LGBTQ Attorneys in Mecklenburg County
At Weaver, Bennett & Bland, our family lawyers are your advocates to help protect your family, help you understand your rights, and help make sure you understand the legal complexities that can affect your family during same-sex separation and divorce. For a consultation or to receive more information about our LGBTQ family law services throughout Mecklenburg and Union County, contact us at (704) 844-1400.
Can we have a same-sex marriage adoption in North Carolina?
In North Carolina, even if same-sex couples were legally married in another state, previous to the law change the couples were prohibited from adopting children. When the law recognized same-sex marriage, those couples became eligible to adopt children together as spouses. Additionally, where only one parent was the legal or adoptive parent, the parent-child relationship for the other spouse can now be formalized through step-parent adoption.
What are same-sex marriage child custody issues?
The Supreme Court’s ruling would suggest that a same-sex couple’s status should not be considered as a basis upon which to award custody. However, in cases where only one parent is recognized as the legal parent, the implications for the other same-sex spouse may prove to be unfortunate and devastating. Moreover, it is not yet known whether lawyers will find ways to suggest that the same-sex status would constitute a “substantial change of circumstances” warranting the modification of a custody order.
Does Equitable Distribution apply to same-sex couples?
Prior to the Obergefell ruling, divorcing same-sex couples in North Carolina were left to the whims of “title” in determining who got what property. For example, property titled in Spouse A’s name but used by Spouse B, would go to Spouse A, irrespective of whether the couple were together when the property was purchased and regardless of whether Spouse B used her own money to pay for it. Now, with the recognition of same-sex marriage, that same property would be considered marital property pursuant to the NC equitable distribution laws. Additionally, same-sex spouses may now own property titled to them as tenancy by the entireties, which affords protection from the creditors of each individual spouse to preclude them from forcing a sale of the property to pay a debt.