NYC Gay & LGBT Family Law Lawyers
Last Updated on
NYC Gay & LGBT Family Law Lawyers
Though many people feel that we have come a long way in reference to how those in the LGBT community are treated, there is still quite a long road ahead. This is perhaps most apparent when it comes to the rights of these individuals.
Same Sex Marriage Declared Legal in the United States
On June 26, 2015 the Supreme Court declared same sex marriages legal in all 50 states; however, that law did not encompass everything that normally goes along with marriage. This means that even though the law allows them to marry it does not mean that the actual process will go as smoothly as it might for a heterosexual couple. For example, they may have a tougher time finding someone to bake their cake, find a venue or even someone to officiate the ceremony. If you feel you have been wrongfully discriminated against give us a call so that we may go over it with you and decide the best course of action.
New York is among the 50 states legalizing same-sex marriages. The United States Supreme Court made a ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015. In this ruling, the Court found that it is unconstitutional for states to ban same-sex marriages. Each state has its a unique set of statutes and laws concerning same-sex marriages. New York City LGBT partners who want to get married are wise to seek out the services of an LGBT family law attorney in NYC. Your lawyer will be able to give advice on the laws and regulations. Here are several family law issues:
- Drafting a prenuptial agreement for property and asset separation
- Learn the tax ramifications of filing joint and separate taxes
- Understand the adoption laws for a particular state
- Legal issues on surrogacy
- Estate planning for the household
Beginning in 2011, the process for obtaining marriages licenses in the state of New York was the same for heterosexual and LGBT couples seeking to get married.
The American Community Survey (ACS) is a study done nationwide by the U.S. Census Bureau. ACS contains information from the 2010 U.S. Census and from additional surveys. Here is some interesting statistics from the report:
- 594,000 same-sex couples live in the U.S
- here are 169,000 registered domestic partners living in the U.S
- 25.7% (152,000) spouses in same-sex households
- 115,000 of the 594,000 same-sex couples have at least one child in their household
- 89% of the 115,000 are children of either partner
The Defense of Marriage Act
Federal benefits are available for same-sex spouses by way of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA). Each federal agency has its own process for determining eligibility. These are the benefits are available to legal same-sex spouses:
- Social Security Survivor benefits, including retirement or disability
- Receive federal government lump-sum death benefit for funeral expenses
- They can file joint income tax returns
- They can take exemptions for federal estate and gift taxes
- Combining the respective spouses estate tax exemptions
- The tax advantages for a surviving spouse such as life estate trusts
- Military benefits such as healthcare, educational help, and death pensions also cover same-sex spouses
LGBT Discrimination in Adopting a Child
Adoption for those in the LGBT community is oftentimes a very frustrating process that may end in not being able to adopt a child. Most states do not have actual laws that prohibit same sex couples from adopting. That being said, the final decision on placements usually ends up in the hands of welfare employees or judges. If the agency or individual that decides on placement has negative views on this topic it may well make the adoption process very difficult or maybe even impossible.
If you feel that you are being discriminated against during an adoption process first make sure that there really is discrimination and not something that is just perceived. In other words, you should first voice your concerns to the individual that you are dealing with; perhaps they are not returning your calls immediately because they are inundated with work at this time or it was just a simple misunderstanding. If that does not clear things up then feel free to speak with their supervisor or the head of the agency to see if they can help with the situation. If you have exhausted all of these avenues then you may want to contact an attorney and make an appointment to discuss the situation.
Gay and LGBT Divorce
As difficult as the marriage process can be for the LGBT community the process of getting divorced may be even harder. In a heterosexual marriage when a couple decides to divorce a judge will determine the custody rights including child support and visitation. However, it becomes more difficult for gay couples especially if only one of them is the adoptive parent.
Some states do not recognize “de facto” parents, which means a parent that fulfills a child’s psychological and physical needs through affection and care on a daily basis and who has been in that role for a substantial period of time. So, unless the couple planned the baby together, usually through artificial insemination for example, it is possible that either parent could simply walk away and there would be no grounds for child support or visitation.
With the dawn of same-sex marriage in New York, an LGBT couple that got married must now follow the procedures governing divorce set forth in Empire State law. Divorce law sets out parameters regarding issues including assets, debts, and children when an LGBT married couple parts. This is an improvement over the status quo that existed before 2011. That said, the law also makes it impossible for a couple who has wed to simply part company without taking formal legal action, even when they have no joint assets or children.
Second Parent Adoption/StepParent Adoption
One way to avoid this is through a process called “second parent adoption” or even “stepparent adoption” which entitles the parent to adopt their partner’s child, thus giving them certain rights regardless of their marital status. Even though same sex marriage has been made legal many feel that this adoption process adds another layer of protection for the non-biological parent.
The ever changing laws surrounding family law and the LGBT community are difficult enough to keep up without trying to interpret them on your own. Call us today for a consultation and get the guidance that you need.
In New York, same-sex marriage was legalized on July 24, 2011. Prior to that, same-sex couples were not able to legally marry or receive the benefits of marriage. They would be denied from health insurance benefits, inheritance benefits, and social security benefits.
The law has been evolving more rapidly in the past decade or so than it has in a long time. Many changes have been made in an effort to offer LGBT people the same rights and protections offered to everyone else. However, laws can frequently be challenged. LGBT couples face numerous obstacles. In cases regarding family law practice, they need legal representation just as much as heterosexual couples. Issues regarding child custody, divorce, marriage, and other legal familial agreements are all part of the family law sphere.
Whether you need to negotiate a prenuptial agreement, complete an adoption, or file a divorce, it’s helpful to contact an LGBT family lawyer. Ideally, you should look for family law practitioners who already have experience representing LGBT clients. They will have knowledge about the struggles and unique challenges the LGBT community faces.
Since laws have been evolving so rapidly, it might be hard to stay up-to-date on your legal rights and any potential challenges. LGBT law lawyers understand how different LGBT-related laws affect you, and they can explain the legal standing of your unique circumstances. From there, they can also give you a list of your legal options going forward. They’ll also fight to make sure your rights are maintained, which can often be a huge relief for LGBT community members.
LGBT stands for Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, and Transgender. It’s the umbrella term used to refer to people whose gender or sexuality falls outside the social heteronormative spectrum. In the past, only heterosexual couples have been afforded privileges like marriage.
Not only has marriage historically been denied to LGBT couples, but many states have had specific discrimination laws against LGBT people. An example would be laws that allow a landlord to deny housing to a same-sex couple based only on the fact that they’re the same sex.
2011 was a historic year in New York. The state determined that same-sex couples have the legal right to marry. While this was a huge cause for celebration and a victory for LGBT rights, there were still individual discriminatory practices on the record.
In the past, healthcare providers could deny treatment to LGBT people. Similarly, insurance companies could deny coverage to LGBT people. These practices are no longer legal. LGBT people have special protections in government institutions, the healthcare environment, and their workplaces.
Like heterosexual couples, LGBT couples have the right to adopt, take primary custody of their children, enter prenuptial agreements, receive tax benefits, and receive other benefits of married couples.
What an LGBT Law Lawyer Can Do
There are some unique aspects of same-sex marriages, but for the most part, they’re treated the same as heterosexual marriages. They require the same paperwork, and they have the same legal options. This means that there are a number of areas an LGBT family lawyer can assist you with.
One of the main services an attorney offers is the ability to prepare legal contracts. In any kind of legal negotiation, you want an attorney to make sure the language is legally binding and specific. Similarly, you want to make sure you don’t accidentally leave anything out. An attorney can guide you through the contract process.
Another potential reason to seek an attorney is if you’re beginning a divorce proceeding. Like all married couples, LGBT couples do have a chance of divorcing. Divorces are complicated processes that involve disentangling all of your combined marital assets. In addition, you have to allocate debts, calculate support payments, and come up with child custody arrangements if you have children.
A family law lawyer can help you if you’re adopting a baby or applying to adopt a baby. LGBT couples can sometimes face illegal discrimination from adoption agencies; a lawyer can help make sure your rights are protected. They’ll also help streamline the paperwork process.
If you’re not married, but you do have children, a family law attorney can help you make child custody arrangements. These are a standard part of a divorce, but they can exist on their own if you were never married to begin with. Child custody arrangements will lay out specific terms for which parent has primary custody, when the child stays with each parent, and how a non-custodial parent fulfills their financial obligation.