Legal matters can be complicated for any couple, but they can be even more confusing for couples in the LGBTQ+ community. Without a basic understanding of the law, it can be challenging to know what rights you and your partner have. To help you navigate your legal issues, here are a few essential things to consider if you’re an LGBTQ+ couple:
Child Custody and Adoption
Depending on the state you live in, both partners may not have parental rights over any biological children born during their marriage or relationship. If one partner has adopted or fostered children while married or in a committed relationship with another partner who did not adopt them, it can make it difficult for both partners to retain parental rights after they separate or divorce.
In some states, both partners will need to undergo an adoption process after separation to secure their legal rights as parents of any adopted children in the relationship. Additionally, some states do not recognize second-parent adoptions—which allow two unmarried people living together to adopt a child together—for same-sex couples.
In many states, same-sex marriages are legally recognized, which means that if a couple wants to end their union, they must go through a divorce process. This process is similar for straight and same-sex couples; however, additional steps may need to be taken depending on the state in which you live. It’s important to note that the dissolution of a domestic partnership (if applicable) must also take place before filing for a divorce or separation.
Additionally, you should employ the help of an attorney from a reliable family law firm with experience in LGBT divorce cases, as they can help guide you through the process. They can also help you understand your rights and options, making divorce or separation less stressful.
Property Ownership and Division
When determining property ownership and division after divorce or separation between same-sex couples, LGBT spouses have the same legal rights as heterosexual spouses in most states. Property division is typically done by looking at who owns what assets and debts at the time of separation and then dividing those equitably according to each spouse’s contribution (financial and otherwise).
As with heterosexual spouses, all assets acquired during the marriage are subject to equitable distribution between LGBT spouses unless otherwise agreed upon by both parties before filing for divorce or separation. Additionally, if one spouse is financially supporting the other for a certain period of time, that support may be taken into account when determining property division.
Taxes and Insurance Benefits
Generally speaking, LGBTQ+ couples should file taxes jointly when possible since this could save them money in taxes owed due to deductions available only when filing jointly (such as being able to deduct certain medical expenses). Additionally, many insurance benefits are available only if they are obtained through an employer’s plan; these include health insurance coverage for domestic partners and other family members.
These benefits must be discussed with employers before signing any policy so that all parties understand what coverage is provided under each plan. If domestic partners are not able to receive coverage through an employer’s plan, they may need to consider purchasing separate insurance policies on their own. Again, consulting with a reliable attorney can help you navigate these and other legal issues that may arise as an LGBTQ+ couple.
Beneficiary designations refer to who will receive assets such as life insurance policies upon the death of an individual; often times these assets may pass directly from one party (the insured) into the hands of another (the beneficiary).
It is important for same-sex couples who wish their assets passed on this way have correctly designated beneficiaries on all policies so that no confusion arises when it comes time for those assets to be distributed after the death of either party involved in the relationship/marriage. If there are any questions or concerns surrounding beneficiary designations, it is best to consult with an attorney who can help guide you through this process and ensure that the right beneficiaries are listed on all policies.
No matter what legal issue arises for LGBTQ+ couples—from tax filing status and insurance benefits eligibility all the way down to complex custody battles—individuals must understand their rights before making any decisions about their case moving forward. While there remain some discrepancies between how LGBT individuals are treated under certain laws at state levels compared with federal laws currently in place across America—all individuals should consult with a qualified attorney before making any long-term decisions regarding legal matters concerning themselves or their relationships/marriages/partnerships with others within the community today.