Tampa Same-Sex LGBTQ Divorce Attorney
Divorce is difficult under any circumstances. Married spouses in same-sex marriages deal with marital problems just like heterosexual couples, and sometimes their marriages end in divorce. It is important for LGBTQ couples to know about their rights under Florida law, and to work with a lawyer who is dedicated to providing legal services and advocating for same-sex couples in family law cases. Whether you have questions about divorce issues pertaining to finances like property division or alimony, or you need assistance with a complex child custody case, a lawyer at our firm can assist you. Contact our experienced Tampa LGBTQ same-sex divorce attorney today to find out more about the services we provide to parties in same-sex marriages in Florida.
How Do LGBTQ Same-Sex Divorces Work in Tampa?
Divorces for LGBTQ same-sex couples in Florida have only been occurring since 2015, following a U.S. District Court ruling and a subsequent ruling from the U.S. Supreme Court, which held that states cannot deny rights related to marriage and divorce to same-sex couples. In that case, Obergefell v. Hodges (2015), the Court ruled that the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution guarantees the right to marry for same-sex and opposite-sex couples alike, and that states must recognize the same-sex marriage of a couple that occurred in another state. Accordingly, whether you were married in a same-sex marriage in Florida or in another state, you can be eligible to file for divorce in Florida as long as you meet the requirements under the Florida Statutes.
To be clear, the requirements for divorce eligibility in Florida are the same for an opposite-sex couple as for a same-sex couple, and same-sex couples have the same rights as opposite-sex couples according to the law. Those eligibility requirements include the following:
- At least one of the spouses must have lived in Florida and been a resident of the state for at least six months prior to the divorce filing;
- Petition for dissolution of marriage must be filed in a county where one of the spouses currently lives; and
- Spouse filing for divorce must plead the “no fault” reason that the marriage is “irretrievably broken.”
There are no requirements for the spouses to live separate and apart for any period of time prior to the divorce filing.
Issues to Consider in an LGBTQ Same-Sex Tampa Divorce
While it is critical to remember that same-sex couples have the same rights as opposite-sex couples in Florida concerning marriage and divorce, it is also important to know that certain issues can arise in an LGBTQ same-sex divorce. Some common issues include but are not limited to:
- Alimony can be awarded based on a range of factors, but some same-sex spouses who are seeking alimony could be at a slight disadvantage since same-sex marriage has only been legal in Florida for approximately 7 years (and a spouse seeking support might not be able to emphasize factors related to the duration of the marriage);
- Property division may be more complicated based on how the parties shared assets and debts prior to the ability to enter into a same-sex marriage in Florida; and
- Child custody issues can be more complicated if one of the spouses legally adopted or gave birth to a child prior to the same-sex marriage, even if the couple was committed to one another and to their child before same-sex marriage became legal in Florida.
You should know that an experienced LGBTQ same-sex divorce attorney can discuss these issues and more with you, and can assist you from the start of your divorce case.
Child Custody Issues Particular to Many LGBTQ Divorces
Child custody is often a tricky issue in same sex divorces due to the fact that 1) only one spouse is the child’s biological parent, 2) the child is from one of the spouse’s previous marriages or relationships, or 3) the child is adopted, but is only one spouse is a legal guardian. In the first scenario, if only one spouse is the child’s biological parent, but the other spouse helped raise the child from birth or a young age, custody depends on whether or not the non biological parent is a legal guardian. If the answer is yes, then both have equal rights to custody. If the answer is no, the biological parent will likely end up with full legal custody of the child. The same is true if the child is from a previous marriage or relationship—if no other biological parent exists, and the non biological parent has no legal guardian rights, they will almost certainly be denied custody. Many same sex couples choose to adopt, but for one reason or another, only one spouse signs the legal documents making them the guardian. This presents a serious problem for the parent who did not sign papers upon adoption, as they will have to fight incredibly hard to gain any custody or visitation rights.
Other Divorce Matters We Handle for Same-Sex Couples
- Division of Marital Assets—All marital property (property that was acquired during marriage) is subject to division and equitable distribution.
- Child Support—The non-custodial parent may be required to pay child support, even if they are not the child’s biological parent, as long as they are a legal guardian and adopted the child.
- Spousal Support/Alimony—The higher earning spouse may be required to pay alimony in some situations.
Contact The Law Office of Laura A. Olson, P.A. to Speak to a Tampa LGBTQ Divorce Lawyer
Divorce is one of the most stressful, difficult decisions of anyone’s life, and in order to ensure that your future starts out on the right foot, you need an experienced Tampa same-sex LGBTQ divorce attorney to guide you through it. For all of your divorce needs, including division of assets, child custody, and support orders, call The Law Office of Laura A. Olson, P.A. at 813-222-0888 to schedule a free consultation today.