What does an LGBTQ divorce involve?

lbgtq divorce attorney in Portland ORSince July 9, 2015, LGBTQ couples have had equal access to the legal rights of marriage under federal law. Same-sex marriages have been recognized in Oregon since May 9, 2014, and have offered registered domestic partnerships for same-sex couples since 2008.

The discrepancy between state and federal laws, and the time it has taken to fully recognize LGBTQ marriage rights, have made for some complex legal cases and decisions. If you’re in a same-sex marriage and considering divorce, hiring a lawyer can help clarify your rights and options under the law.

Under federal law and Oregon law, an LGBTQ marriage has all the rights of an opposite sex marriage. This also means a divorce involves the same legal decisions, including:

  • Child custody and parenting time
  • Child support, including health insurance and medical bills
  • Deciding who is responsible for debts incurred while married
  • Division of property, including retirement accounts
  • Spousal support

While it may seem on the surface that LGBTQ divorce is exactly like opposite-sex divorce, same-sex divorce can be more complex. Trillium Law, PC, provides all of our clients with every option possible. We make sure our clients feel supported at every step of the way, and have all of the information they need to make the legal decisions that are right for them.

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Child custody is more complicated with LGBTQ divorces.

Because state and federal recognition of LBGTQ marriage has arrived only recently, child custody cases can still have a host of complications. Child custody relies on either biological parental rights or adoptive parent rights, and if you have neither, it will be very difficult to be recognized as a parent.

While Oregon’s adoption laws and available registered domestic partnerships have made it easier to share custody of children, the laws governing same-sex parental rights are far from perfect. We recommend consulting with a lawyer experienced with LGBTQ divorce to get the best information and advice about child custody.

The length of your marriage is separate from your relationship.

Alimony (called spousal support in Oregon) is based on a variety of factors, including the income of both spouses, earning potential, mutual debt, the length of the marriage itself, and other factors. Because LGBTQ marriage has just recently become recognized legally, you may not be able to claim or prove the entire length of your relationship. For instance, if you have lived with your spouse for twenty years, but have only been married for five years, the court may disregard the entire length of your relationship when determining alimony.

“Common law” or unregistered domestic partnerships are not recognized in Oregon.

If you are not married and you don’t have a registered domestic partnership, you are not entitled to any legal rights or subject to any legal responsibilities of marriage or domestic partnership. Some states have provisions for couples who have lived together for a period of time, but Oregon does not recognize this type of partnership. If you have lived with someone for any period of time without registering as a partnership or getting married, there won’t be any legal recognition of a divorce, and no division of property as part of a divorce settlement.

Choose an experienced LGBTQ divorce lawyer.

These are just some of the legal complications that can occur during a divorce case. We know how overwhelming all of these laws and changes can be on your family and yourself, and we are here to support you. We’ll make sure you understand all of your options, the possible conclusions of your divorce case, and any other consequences of your divorce. If you need help navigating the legal implications of an LGBTQ divorce, contact Trillium Law, PC, today.

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