The state of New York recognized same sex marriages several years before the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a decision legalizing same sex marriage across the United States. The Marriage Equality Act took effect in New York in the summer of 2011.
The enactment of the Marriage Equality Act, and the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court regarding marriage equality, has changed the landscape in New York when it comes to the LGBT community and various aspects of family law in the state. A person who lives in the boroughs, or elsewhere in New York, can obtain information about LGBT family law issues through experienced bronx LGBT family law lawyers.
LGBT Couples and Marriage Licenses in New York
Beginning in 2011, the process for obtaining marriages licenses in New York was the same for straight and LGBT couples seeking to wed. A couple desiring to wed needs to appear in person at the office of a town or city clerk. In the bronx, a marriage license for an LGBT couple can be obtained at:
851 Grand Concourse
Bronx, NY 10451
Both individuals desiring to wed must appear together to obtain a license. There is a fee to obtain a marriage license. The fee can be paid with cash, money order, or credit card.
The license is issued immediately. However, in New York, there is a 24-hour waiting period before the wedding ceremony can take place. The waiting period can be waived by a justice of the Supreme Court or a judge of the County Court. This sometimes occurs when a couple is being wed “at the courthouse” following the issuance of a marriage license.
LGBT Couples and Divorce in New York
Prior to the enactment of the Marriage Equality Act in New York, same-sex couples could end their relationships with relative ease in many circumstances. Nonetheless, if jointly owned property or children were involved, ending a same-sex relationship before the Marriage Equality Act presented its own set of challenges.
With the establishment of same-sex marriage in New York, an LGBT couple that has wed must now follow the procedures governing divorce set forth in Empire State law. Divorce law establishes parameters regarding issues pertaining to assets, debts, and children when an LGBT married couple parts, which is an improvement over the status quo that existed before 2011. However, the law also makes it impossible for a couple who has wed to merely part company without taking formal legal action, even when they have no joint assets or children.
LGBT Couples, Divorce, and Child Custody
There exists no “special law” when it comes to child custody determinations in a divorce case involving same-sex spouses. Rather, the best interests of the child standard is utilized in making custody decisions in all New York Divorce cases.
The best interests of the child standard necessitates a consideration of a number of factors in making child custody decisions, according to Cornell University Law School. These include a consideration of which spouse traditionally was the primary caretaker of a child, the residential situation of each spouse, and the overall physical, mental, and emotional health of the parties.
Assets, Debts, and Divorce
New York utilizes what is known as the equitable division of property standard when it comes to all divorce cases in the state. The equitable division standard mandates that the assets and debts of a marriage are divided between the divorcing spouses in a manner that is fair and equitable according to the prevailing circumstances in the case.
Retain a bronx LGBT Family Law Lawyer
A party to a same-sex marriage who desires to divorce needs to seek out the advice and assistance of an experienced Bronx family law lawyer. The reality is that not all family law attorneys practicing in New York have the background and experience necessary to represent a member of the LGBT community in need to marriage termination services. Although the law is the same no matter who seeks a divorce, there are unique considerations to bear in mind when it comes to an LGBT couple seeking to end a marriage.
The first step in retaining a qualified bronx LGBT family law lawyer is scheduling an initial consultation. During an initial consultation, a person in need of a divorce can ascertain whether or not an attorney has the background necessary to work for a member of the LGBT community in need of a divorce.
During an initial consultation, an attorney provides an overall evaluation of a divorce case. The evaluation includes a consideration of how various issues potentially can be resolved in a particular case. As a matter of practice, a bronx LGBT family law lawyer charges no fee for an initial consultation with a prospective client.
Over the past few decades, individuals in the LGBT community have certainly come a long way. There has been major progress in the laws regarding gay, lesbian, bisexual and transgender people throughout the United States. The Bronx and all of the New York area is certainly no exception. At the same time, there is still a long road ahead to truly ensure that individuals of the LGBT community have all of the same and equal rights as anyone else.
June 26, 2015 was a huge day for the gay and lesbian Americans when the Supreme Court declared that same sex marriages would, from then on, be legal in all 50 states throughout the country. Yet, at the same time, the law did not include everything that typically accompanies marriage itself. Unfortunately, even though the law now made it legal for people within the LGBT community to get married, it didn’t necessarily mean that their journey toward making relationships official and legal would be as easy as it could be for heterosexual couples. For example, a gay or lesbian couple looking to get married might have difficulty finding a bakery to bake their wedding cake or the right venue for their wedding due to resistance. These are examples of discrimination against the LGBT community and anyone who feels they have experienced this type of unfair treatment in the Bronx, New York should immediately get in touch with an experienced LGBT family law attorney to determine their next course of action.
In addition to those problems, adoption is a huge issue for people within the LGBT community as well. The process can be extremely frustrating and can even end up with the couple not being able to adopt a child. The majority of states don’t have any laws that specifically prohibit same sex couples from adopting children. However, the final decision on such matters generally ends with judges or welfare employees. As a result, adoption agencies may ultimately decide that placing a child with a same sex couple can have a negative impact on its organization, which can make the entire process difficult or even impossible.
Any same sex couple that feels they have been discriminated against when trying to adopt should first ensure that there was discrimination and not something imagined or assumed. Expressing concerns to the person assisting through the adoption process is important. If the individual is not returning calls in a timely fashion, it may simply be that they are very busy with work. The next step, if things are not clear after speaking with that person, is to contact their supervisor or the agency’s president or whomever else may be in charge to see whether they can help. Only after exhausting all of those means should a person contact an LGBT family law lawyer to discuss the situation and potentially take legal action.
Although the marriage process can be complex for people in the LGBT community, getting a divorce can be even more difficult. When a heterosexual couple gets divorced, a judge determines issues involving custody, child support and visitation when the marriage resulted in a child. With same sex couples, this can be extremely complicated, especially if only one party actually adopted the child.
In some situations, the state may not recognize what is known as a “de facto” parent, which relates to the parent who tends to a child’s physical and psychological needs through daily care and affection. Generally, this is the parent who has been in the primary parent role for a considerable amount of time. In many cases, unless the couple planned to have a child together, such as through artificial insemination, either parent could just leave, which would result in no grounds for child support or visitation.
This is a very complicated situation that is also highly emotional for all parties. It’s possible to avoid this issue through second parent adoption or step-parent adoption, which allows the individual to legally adopt their same sex spouse or partner’s child. This gives the individual specific rights even if the couple is not married. However, it can even serve as a level of protection for both parents when the couple is legally married.
LGBT family laws are always shifting and changing, which means if you are in a situation that warrants it, you may want to contact a skilled attorney. Contact a Bronx gay and LGBT family law lawyer immediately to discuss your situation.