Houston LGBTQ+ Divorce Attorney
The LGBTQ+ community fought for years to make same-sex marriage legal in Texas. This means that all gay married couples will stay together forever, right? Wrong. Just because a same-sex couple fought hard to get married doesn’t mean their relationship is perfect. If you’re a gay couple considering divorce in Houston, you’re going to need an experienced gay divorce attorney. Although the legal process is the same for gay divorce, there are issues you’ll encounter as a gay person that other married people don’t.
Gay divorce attorneys have spent years learning how to best deal with gay divorces. There are special things to consider when handling this type of case. Some of these issues may be:
- Custody of adopted children
- Health insurance
- Pensions and retirement accounts
- Child support
Your Houston family law attorney has dealt with these issues before. They understand that your Marital Settlement Agreement will not look like a traditional Marital Settlement Agreement (MSA.) Yours will have to address issues that straight couples never have to deal with.
You also have to keep in mind that Texas only legalized gay marriage a little under two (2) years ago. The courts don’t have a lot of experience handling gay divorces. They’re learning right along with the gay divorce attorneys.
The court is still figuring out how to address certain issues. For example, how will the court handle custody when only one parent is the legal adoptive parent? And, how can the courts make up for the fact that most pension plans won’t let you name a same-sex spouse as beneficiary?
Call a gay divorce attorney who will do the legwork and research the case law for you. They’ll make the best argument possible to win your case.
Factors to Consider When Filing for Divorce
Deciding to file a divorce is not an easy thing. It could be one of the biggest decisions you and your spouse ever make. It’s important that you have an experienced attorney there to help you make it through the divorce process.
Before you meet with your lawyer, you may think you know what a divorce entails. However, you really have no idea until your knee-deep in the process. Let’s discuss just a few aspects of a gay divorce that your lawyer will help you navigate.
Division of Property
Chances are, you and your spouse have assets and debts. These things need to be split up during the divorce. Your gay divorce attorney in Houston is going to draft an MSA that will help you do this. It’ll outline exactly how all of your assets are going to be divided. It will also list how your debts will be divided.
Depending on how long you were married, you may have to share some of your assets with your spouse. The concept that you split everything you own down the middle doesn’t really work in the real world. Most people bring assets into the marriage. These things, for the most part, will be protected in case of divorce.
If you have a pre-nuptial agreement, it will dictate how things are divided. However, if you and your partner didn’t sign a prenup, your divorce will follow the normal rules of equitable distribution.
Any assets that you and your spouse brought into the marriage will stay with you. Any assets you bought together during the marriage will have to be divided. As long as both people get an equal share, it doesn’t mean you have to literally split everything in half. For example, how do you divide a car in half? Perhaps what you do is give each spouse a car of equal value.
One issue that can get complicated in a gay divorce in Houston is child custody. It’s no secret that gay couples can’t have biological children together. This means that only one parent could technically be the mom or dad. However, this doesn’t mean that only one parent has the right to custody.
If you and your spouse were married for a while, you may have completed a second-adoption. This process lets you both become a legal parent to your child. If you completed a second-adoption, you’ll make things easier. The children will be treated like they are in any divorce. You’ll come up with a custody arrangement that makes sense for both parents.
The same is true if one spouse is a biological parent. The other parent can adopt the child and both parents will share legal custody. If they decide to get a divorce, they can share custody of the children.
If, however, only one parent has parental rights, your gay divorce attorney is going to have to fight for you. It’s going to be an uphill battle. Technically, you won’t have any rights to that child. You’ll have to convince the court that you have rights to custody. At a minimum, you should be entitled to visitation.
If you and your spouse have children, then someone’s going to end up paying child support. Whoever ends up with primary custody is going to be entitled to child support. Just because only one spouse may be the legal parent, doesn’t mean the other parent doesn’t have to pay child support.
Child support in a gay divorce in Houston is going to be treated just like any other case. The court is going to look at the parties’ incomes to see how much should be paid every month. It will depend on the ages and number of children. It will also depend on how much time each parent has the children.
Texas uses something called child support guidelines. All your gay divorce attorney in Houston has to do is plug your numbers into the program. It will print out a calculation showing how much should be paid.
The parties can also agree on child support outside the guidelines. Your attorney is going to work with the other attorney to agree on terms. This issue will be outlined in your MSA along with child custody.
Depending on how long you were married you may have to pay your spouse alimony. Alimony is meant to ensure that both parties are able to live comfortably after the divorce. If while you were married, one spouse was the primary breadwinner, the other spouse may be entitled to alimony.
Alimony is not ordered in Texas unless you’ve been married for at least ten (10) years. Any marriage shorter than this usually won’t result in alimony. The only exception is if one spouse was the victim of physical abuse within two (2) years of the divorce.
The duration of alimony will also be determined prior to the divorce being finalized. The attorneys will try to work this out between the two of them. They’ll outline the terms of the alimony in the MSA. If the parties can’t agree to these terms, they’ll have to go to mediation.
For the most part, gay divorces today won’t result in alimony. This is because gay marriage has only been legal for a couple of years. However, if your Houston attorney can prove that you were together living as a married couple for ten years, you may be able to prove you’re entitled to alimony.
Contact a Skilled Houston LGBTQ+ Divorce Lawyer
If you and your spouse are contemplating divorce, you need to contact a gay divorce attorney in Houston. Chances are, your partner is going to have an attorney. If you don’t have one, you’ll be at a serious disadvantage.
Your gay divorce attorney can help negotiate all the terms of your Marital Settlement Agreement. He’ll work with the other attorney to try to nail down all terms so you don’t have to go to trial.
In Texas, the courts discourage trials. Typically, you’ll be required to go through mediation in order to avoid trial. Your attorney will represent you in both the mediation and the court hearings.
Call and schedule your initial consultation today. Your gay divorce attorney in Houston can help protect your legal rights.