Same-Sex Divorce

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St. Louis Same-Sex Divorce Attorney

Divorce is one of the most challenging experiences anyone can face in life. If your same-sex marriage is ending, you are probably dealing with a lot of overwhelming emotions and stress. There are so many practical issues to resolve on top of the heartache you may be experiencing.

To complete your divorce and move on with your life, you and your spouse will have to resolve many questions, which can include the disposition of property, any child custody issues, and any requests for maintenance. With so many issues to resolve, you may be wondering where to begin. The answer is to seek out skilled legal advice from a St. Louis same-sex divorce attorney.

With recent court victories establishing the civil rights of gay people, LGBTQ+ community legal support is easier to find than ever before. In St. Louis County, the Missouri family law firm of Grant, Miller & Smith, LLC can serve as your legal representation, making sure that you have someone on your side throughout this process. Make sure your voice is heard. Contact Grant, Miller & Smith, LLC today about your legal consultation options.

St. Louis Same-Sex Divorce Attorney

Marriage equality laws have changed the legal situation for same-sex couples drastically in recent years, culminating in the 2015 U.S. Supreme Court ruling In Obergefell v. Hodges, which legalized same-sex marriage nationwide. Federal law also requires states to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states. Now that LGBTQ+ rights are recognized by law, same-sex couples can get married or divorced like anyone else.

If you are contemplating a same-sex divorce in Ladue, Wildwood, Chesterfield, or elsewhere in St. Louis County, you need the assistance of an experienced and skilled St. Louis same-sex divorce attorney. A skilled LGBT family lawyer can be your advocate and representative in this challenging process, ensuring that your rights are protected and that you have an advocate from start to finish.

Same-Sex Marriage in Missouri

Same-sex marriage has only been legal in all of Missouri since 2015. Before that, the law always assumed that a marriage happened between a man and a woman. With the movement for LGBT civil rights, this began to change, and states began to consider the possibility of same-sex marriage. However, some people opposed this change, including some in Missouri.

When Massachusetts made same-sex marriage legal in 2004, Missouri voters amended the state constitution to ensure that same-sex marriage would not be legal in Missouri. However, judges in St. Louis and Kansas City struck down this ban in their cities and surrounding areas in 2014. The first same-sex marriages in Missouri were performed at this time, even though they were still not legally recognized in most areas of the state. Another judge in the same year ruled that Missouri was legally obligated to recognize same-sex marriages from other states.

In 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage should be legal throughout the United States. Since that time, same-sex couples in Missouri have had the same marriage rights as any other couples, including the right to get divorced. However, gay divorce does have some unique issues that straight divorces do not.

Division of Property

Division of property works the same way in a same-sex divorce as in any other divorce. Missouri is a no-fault state, so neither party must prove that the other party did anything wrong to end the marriage. All you need to do to get divorced is to inform the court that your marriage is irretrievably broken. Marital property is then divided equitably as part of the divorce.

Your LGBT family lawyer can help you draw up a separation agreement that will specify exactly how your marital property will be divided. The court will generally honor this agreement as written except in cases where the division is fundamentally unfair, and the court decides that the agreement is unconscionable. This is a problem you shouldn’t have if you have the help of a skilled same-sex divorce lawyer.

However, there is one circumstance in which a judge may decide that an asset should not be treated the same way as in an opposite-sex marriage. Because same-sex marriage has only been legal in Missouri since 2015, a judge may rule that the couple has not been married long enough to qualify for certain military benefits, even though the couple may have considered themselves married for much longer. This can also be the case if the couple married in another state before 2015. Of course, the more time passes, the less likely this is to be an issue.

Maintenance

Spousal support or maintenance can also be different in a same-sex divorce matter. Missouri courts don’t order maintenance in every divorce case, and one of the factors is the duration of the marriage. If the couple lived together for years but could not get married until 2015 because it was not yet legal in Missouri, then this could affect the court’s willingness to grant maintenance. However, the duration of the marriage is only one of several factors that the court will consider. Other factors include whether you are able to support yourself through work at this time, which may not be the case if you are raising a child. This is a situation in which having an LGBT family lawyer on your side could be a significant advantage.

Child Custody

Child custody issues are somewhat more complex in a same-sex divorce than in an opposite-sex divorce. Under Missouri law, both partners in a marriage are presumed to be the parents if a child is conceived or born while they are married. This is known as “presumption of paternity” or “presumption of parentage.” 

Although the phrasing of this law speaks of the “natural father” and “natural mother,” Missouri courts have found that it applies to same-sex marriages, too. However, adoption may be the best way to safeguard parental rights in a same-sex marriage because adoption doesn’t depend on a genetic relationship, and all adoptions are recognized in all 50 states.

In addition, there are some circumstances where the presumption of parentage would not apply. For instance, if one partner already had a child before getting married, the other partner would not necessarily have parental rights. Missouri law does allow any person who has either physical or legal custody for more than 60 days to bring an action in court alleging that a father and child relationship has been established.

Let Our Same-Sex Divorce Attorneys Get to Work for You

After you have worked out all these issues and agreed on the terms of a separation agreement, the court can proceed with your divorce. If the court makes a decision you believe is in error, you have the right to file an appeal through the civil appeals process. To make an appeal properly, you will need legal advice from a lawyer experienced with LGBTQ+ family law.

For anyone contemplating a same-sex divorce in Ladue, Wildwood, Chesterfield, or the St. Louis metropolitan area, the best legal consultation option is to contact a family law attorney from Grant, Miller & Smith, LLC. Our experienced LGBT family lawyers are familiar with every aspect of Missouri family law. They are eager to serve as your legal representation throughout the divorce process, making sure that your voice is heard. 

Contact Grant, Miller & Smith, LLC today for your initial consultation.