The Importance of Obtaining Sound Legal Advice for Your Same-Sex Marriage
The Marriage Equality Act, signed into law in June 2011 and effective July 24, 2011, will have a profound impact on family law for gay and lesbian couples. Approximately 20,000 same-sex couples are expected to get married over the next three years in New York. Prudent same-sex couples should take similar precautions as a heterosexual couple regarding preparing a pre-nuptial agreement and consulting with an experienced family lawyer regarding the legal implications of their marriage.
If gay divorce rates are similar to heterosexual divorce rates, many gay couples will get divorced. A 2006 study of gay divorce rates in Norway and Sweden found that "divorce risks are rather similar in same-sex and opposite-sex marriages, but divorce-risk levels are considerably higher in same-sex marriages." Furthermore, this study found that female same-sex couples were more likely than male-same sex couples to apply for a divorce.
New York has been granting gay divorces for several years. The court ruled in the 2008 case of C.M. v. C.C that a couple who got married in Massachusetts but resided in New York could apply for a divorce in New York.
The jurisprudence and legislation have developed so that a same-sex couple can now expect to be treated similarly to a heterosexual couple in the eyes of the law; however, many same-sex couples may face unique emotional issues if they end up in a marriage that is about to end in divorce.
Married and divorced gay and lesbian couples may experience added stress in comparison to heterosexual couples. They may not have the same support in the community as heterosexual couples and may continue to be subjected to discrimination. They are unlikely to have as many mentors who have been in same-sex marriages who can help guide them with unique issues same-sex couples are likely to encounter. They may also find it more difficult to start a family than a heterosexual couple. Therefore, it is important for couples to plan ahead.
If children are involved or may be involved in a marriage, it is important to seek legal advice to minimize heartache to all parties involved. A couple may be raising a child thinking they are the only two parents the child has, until a biological parent makes a custody claim. In other cases, people with no intention to parent a child may acquire parental duties and obligations as a result of their new relationship status. Individuals who have been parenting a child may find they are required by law to continue to support the child even if their relationship breaks down and even if they do not have a biological connection with the child.
A same-sex couple should consult with a lawyer to clarify who the law will recognize as parents of their children so that they can best protect the interests of their children.
Couples of all sexual orientations can benefit from knowing who owns what and what legal implications will be at play in the event of a disability, death or divorce. Couples in New York City already tend to be high-income earners. Many gay couples who choose to get married are older and therefore have accumulated more wealth. Many already own property and have large pensions. Some have inherited or will inherit money or property. Same-sex couples considering getting married should start thinking about how a marriage could affect ownership of their property as soon as possible. These issues may be resolved in a pre-nuptial agreement.
Important issues to discuss with a lawyer when you are considering getting married or if you are already married include life insurance, pension, health benefits and alimony. If children are involved, families should consider who is should have custody of the children and what child support and visitation arrangements should be made.
A lawyer like Brian D. Perskin has worked for gay and lesbian clients of a variety of family law matters, and is aware of issues that affect the gay community. The Law Offices of Brian D. Perskin has experience working with gay and lesbian couples on a variety of family law issues.
Contact the Law Offices of Brian D. Perskin and to get sound legal advice on your gay marriage or gay divorce by visiting http://www.newyorkdivorceattorney.com or calling 646-760-1719.