Providing Creative Solutions and Meticulous Preparation in all Areas of Law
Same-Sex Divorce: Let Our McKinney Divorce Lawyers Help You
With the U.S. Supreme Court’s decision in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, same-sex couples in Texas were granted the same right to marry as opposite-sex partners. Although the Court’s decision does not explicitly mention divorce, its proclamation that states cannot, “bar same-sex couples from marriage on the same terms as accorded to couples of the opposite sex,” has been consistently interpreted to mean that same-sex couples also have equal rights to divorce.
Despite pushback from some judges and members of the Texas legislature, state courts in Texas have been granting same-sex divorces since 2015. While same-sex spouses face the same issues as opposite-sex couples in divorce – including property division, financial support and child custody – they face a number of unique considerations as well. At Nordhaus & Nordhaus, PC we bring years of experience to representing same-sex spouses during the divorce process. We can help you understand your rights, and we can help you make informed decisions while working to resolve your divorce as efficiently and amicably as possible.
Unique Considerations for Same-Sex Divorces in Texas
As you begin to navigate the divorce process, you will quickly encounter some difficult questions. Our attorneys can help you answer questions such as:
1. When were you first considered legally married?
Even if you and your spouse performed a formal marriage ceremony after the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision, this may not necessary establish the date of your marriage for purposes of your divorce. Texas law has long recognized the concept of the common law (or “informal”) marriage; and, if you and your spouse lived together and held yourself out as married before your ceremony, your legal relationship could potentially pre-date the date of your ceremony.
This is important for several reasons, most notably the division of your assets and debts. In Texas, the general rule is that any assets acquired during the marriage are “community property” that is subject to distribution, while assets owned prior to the marriage remain the owner’s exclusive property. The date of marriage can be relevant to the calculation of spousal support (or “alimony”) in Texas as well.
2. What are your rights regarding custody, visitation and child support?
In the case of an opposite-sex marriage, the husband is presumed to be the biological father of any children born during the marriage. But, for same-sex couples, this rule does not apply. Dealing with custody, visitation and child support as a same-sex spouse can present some challenging issues, and establishing your parental rights may be the first step toward crafting a parenting plan that protects the best interests of your children.
3. What are your obligations to the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and Texas Comptroller?
The IRS has recognized the validity of same-sex marriages since well before the Supreme Court’s decision in Obergefell v. Hodges; and, generally speaking, same-sex spouses will have the same federal tax considerations as opposite-sex spouses in a divorce. With the Obergefell decision, the same should hold true for state tax considerations in Texas as well, although same-sex couples will want to exercise particular care when addressing the potential tax implications of the financial aspects of their divorce.
Contact the McKinney Divorce Lawyers at Nordhaus & Nordhaus, PC Right Away
To speak with one of our family lawyers about your same-sex divorce, please call (214) 726-1450 or contact us online. We provide complimentary initial consultations, and one of our McKinney divorce lawyers will be happy to work with you to craft a plan for finalizing your divorce.