Same-sex couples have gained to right to marry within the last decade. However, many state laws were made on the basis of traditional gender roles. Outdated divorce laws and limited judicial decisions have left many same-sex spouses wondering how state law applies to their divorce case.
A Rockville same-sex divorce lawyer can help ensure that you receive the same rights and privileges as opposite-sex spouses. Protecting your rights and interests during marital dissolution cases can be made easier with the help of a divorce attorney who will fight for your rights and in domestic disputes, especially during child custody proceedings.
Applying the Equal Protection Clause in Same-Sex Divorce Cases in Rockville
Legislators and legal professionals alike continue to identify obsolete and outdated statutes in the state’s family law code. This does not mean same-sex couples lose essential rights during divorce proceedings. Article 46 of the Maryland Constitution provides that every citizen has equal rights under state law regardless of gender – this can be applied to family laws as well.
Same-sex couples can therefore assume that state marital dissolution, property division, alimony, and child custody laws are gender-neutral. A local attorney can help a same-sex couple interpret state domestic relations laws and challenge any potentially biased application of such provisions while initiating divorce litigation.
Petitioning for a Same-Sex Divorce in Our Area
Same-sex spouses – just as heterosexual spouses – can generally file for two types of divorce in Maryland: limited divorce (legal separation) under Maryland Family Code §7-102 and absolute divorce under Md. Fam. Code §7-103. Same-sex couples who enter into a marital settlement agreement addressing all issues with regard to their marriage, including custody and support of any minor child, may file for uncontested divorce based on mutual consent (i.e. file for divorce on “no-fault” grounds). The other uncontested ground available to same-sex couples is separation for more than 12 months. A legal professional can help either spouse petition for divorce based on the following fault grounds:
- Constructive desertion
- Conviction of a crime and subsequent imprisonment for three or more years
- Excessively vicious conduct
- Insanity with confinement to a mental institution and medical testimony
A qualified legal advocate from our firm can help same-sex couples in Rockville understand how the state’s fault and no-fault based divorce grounds may apply to their case.
Special Considerations for Same-Sex Divorcees with Shared Children
Family judges may require same-sex spouses with shared children – including those adopted by both parents and those born via surrogacy – to participate in mediation to try to settle their matters out of court. Judges also require divorcing spouses to attend an educational parenting seminar about the effects of divorce on children before granting an absolute divorce, according to Md. Fam. Code §7-103.2.
Sometimes, only one spouse in a same-sex relationship is granted legal custody of a child. A skilled attorney with our firm can help divorcing same-sex couples negotiate an out-of-court custody and child support arrangement to submit to the court for review.
Contact an Experienced Same-Sex Divorce Attorney in Rockville
While same-sex spouses have the same legal rights and obligations as opposite-sex couples during divorce proceedings, you may still be faced with unique facts and circumstances that could affect your case. An attorney from our firm can explain how state family laws apply to your case and help you petition for a limited or absolute divorce or custodial rights.
If you have minor children with a spouse of the same gender, consider contacting a Rockville same-sex divorce lawyer immediately. You can benefit from negotiating an out-of-court divorce settlement and working together to develop a proposed parenting plan. Whether you need help distributing property equitably, obtaining spousal support, or fighting for custody, do not hesitate to contact our experienced family legal professionals today.