While Washington State law guarantees same sex couples equal rights, that protection ends at the state border. Federal law and the patchwork of laws in different states, offer challenges for same sex partners seeking divorce. Many married couples have been together longer than same sex marriage laws have existed. Standard issues resolved through divorce, including child custody, support, and the division of property can be even more complex during a same sex divorce. A skilled and experienced attorney can be an invaluable guide to help you through this process.
Child Custody in Same Sex Divorce
Traditionally, the law found it easy to identify a child’s parent by biology, marriage, or adoption. Therefore, the biological offspring of two people was their child. When a married woman gave birth her husband was the presumed father, or when a married couple adopted a child, both became parents.
These old definitions of parenthood excluded same sex couples and made it impossible for both same sex partners to legally be parents. This was especially true in the case of adoptions. Without the legal ability to marry, many same sex couples were unable to adopt children together. Instead one partner would adopt the child and only that partner would be the legal parent. But this changed with our new laws. Same sex couples are equal in the eyes of the law.
Consider this scenario. Two men in a committed relationship live in a state that does not allow same sex marriage. They adopt a son, but because of the laws in that state, only one man can be listed as the father. Shortly after the adoption, they move to Washington and are married. Unfortunately, a few years later the couple files for divorce. Now the father who adopted the son on paper claims that he is the child’s only parent and refuses to allow the other father custody or visitation. Can he do that?
This is just one example of the complex challenges left by a legacy of different laws on same sex marriage. Not all divorce attorneys are equally prepared to handle issues like this. It takes a lawyer experienced in the history, scope, and depth of the legal battle for same sex rights. The attorneys of Divorce Lawyers For Men are ready to help you navigate the complexities of same sex family law.
If you are a father and your former husband is trying to deny you visitation with your children, call us today at (360) 866-7393 to protect your parental rights.
DOMA and Same Sex Divorce
While Washington state law guarantees marriage equality for all, the federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) denies the rights and benefits of marriage granted by Federal law to same sex married couples. This federal law defines marriage as only existing between one man and one woman. As a result the federal government does not recognize same sex marriages.
During a divorce, DOMA creates a conflict with state law, especially in the area of property division. For federal employees and military personnel, DOMA denies benefits to same sex marriage mates. Normally, assets such as pension and retirement plans are considered community property and equitably divided during a divorce. Since the federal government does not recognize the employee or soldier as being married, it does not recognize the same sex spouse.
This creates a challenge when the divorce court in Washington orders the division of a retirement or pension plan, but the federal agency overseeing the plan refuses to acknowledge the rights of the ex-spouse. In such circumstances, it takes an experienced same sex divorce attorney to properly resolve these issues.
Have questions about same sex divorce in Washington? The attorneys of Divorce Lawyers For Men are experienced representing men with complex scenarios in divorce. End your divorce the right way by choosing the experience, dedication, and professionalism of Divorce Lawyers For Men.
Call (360) 866-7393 right now to speak with an attorney dedicated to helping fathers, husbands, and men in divorce.