Navigating Through the New Waters of Same-Sex Divorce and Child Custody?
You Are Not Alone . . .
In June 2014, Wisconsin courts ruled that a ban on same-sex marriage was a violation of the 14th Amendment of the United States Constitution. On October 6th, the United States Supreme Court confirmed and effectively ended the controversy over same-sex marriage denying review of the legalization of same-sex marriage. While this decision was a giant step towards equality for the LGBTQ community, it is in no way enough. The LGBTQ community has been fighting an uphill battle to get the equal protection that our country guarantees them through the U.S. Constitution. While that battle continues, Thelen & Associates is eager to help develop and defend laws to protect the LGBTQ community and their rights.
With the right to marry, comes the right to divorce which brings with it the ability to preserve and secure your rights as a former spouse. Same-sex couples are now able to protect themselves through divorce laws to ensure the rightful division of property and parenting rights. Wisconsin courts also now have jurisdiction to perform divorces for same-sex, even if the couple was married in another jurisdiction prior to the legalization in Wisconsin. However, this new area of rights for the LGBTQ community is not always clear on what the courts are required to do.
While the process of divorce is a well established cause of action, the issues are often more complicated with same-sex marriage. The laws regarding the LGBTQ community, including same-sex divorce are not very well-defined. Many same-sex couples have been together for far longer than same-sex marriage has been legal. Being together prior to marriage could include the combining of assets, supporting each other, and living together. However, in heterosexual divorce proceeding, the length of marriage is a factor determined in the outcome of the proceeding. If same-sex couples are held to the same standard, couples who have been together but who were unable to get married for so long, will not receive the credit they deserve in the courts eyes. The law must be amended for those that were unable to secure their rights years ago, but yet lived in a marriage-like relationship to ensure proper distribution of martial property and support.
Issues of child support, custody and placement can also be an obstacle for same-sex couples. In some cases the child was born or was adopted prior to the marriage or the couple made the choice not to legally adopt. Complications will arise from the law only protecting one parent, whoever is the biological or legal parent to a child.
While there are many potential issues and uncharted territory ahead for the family law of the LGBTQ community, Thelen & Associates is ready to assist and support you through these difficult and confusing times. Contact us today at (262)547-2757 for a consultation regarding your divorce.