Recently in Gay Divorce Category

May 22, 2012

Florida Same-sex Marriage and Divorce? California Presents and Interesting Solution

gay_divorce_2006_thumb.jpgSame-sex marriage is only legally recognized in a few states. However, many gay and lesbian couples reside in Florida. As a Jacksonville Gay and Lesbian Issues Lawyer, I receive numerous calls from same-sex couples that live in Jacksonville, Florida seeking a divorce.

Florida, like the majority of states that don't recognize same-sex marriage, does not recognize same-sex divorce. This is because granting a same-sex couple a divorce is basically a legal recognition that the couple was married in the first place. If you live in Florida and have been married in a state which allows for same-sex marriages, getting a divorce in Florida is not possible. Obtaining a divorce might require, among other conditions, that you establish residency in the state in which you were married. Generally speaking, most states require residency in their state for six months, a year, or even more.

If you were married in California, however, you may have a new option. California's governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law a bill that allows couples who were married in California to file for divorce in California -- even if the couple no longer lives there. For example, if you were married in California's Orange County, moved to Florida's Orange County, and are now seeking a divorce, the California County that married you still has jurisdiction to grant your divorce.

While this is good news for couples that were married in California, couples married in other states will still have trouble securing a divorce. If you and your partner have decided to draw your relationship to a close, talk with a Jacksonville Gay and Lesbian Issues Lawyer to discuss some of your options.

April 12, 2012

Child Custody Battle Continues For Melissa Etheridge.

melissa.jpgMelissa Etheridge, singer of the hit 90s song "I'm the Only One" and fresh off the release of her new album, Icon, is still in the depths of her legal battle with her former domestic partner. Their current dispute centers around their children, who are 5-year-old twins.

Originally, the court ordered Ms. Etheridge to pay Tammy Lynn Michaels $23,000 a month in child support. As this is more money than many people make in a year (the poverty level for a family of three is $18,530), most people would think $23,000 a month would be sufficient. Ms. Michaels, however, is asking for an increase. She claims she can't survive on this amount and is requesting an increase to $128,000 each month.

Ms. Etheridge has responded with several accusations of why her former partner should not be granted the increase, even accusing Ms. Michaels of accidentally burning one of the children with a cigarette. She has asked the court for 50/50 custody and for an order requiring neither of them smoke around the children.

Further, Ms. Michaels has accused Ms. Etheridge of teaching the children to be "distant and withdrawn," asking that her - Ms. Etheridge - time with the children be reduced.

While it is easy to scoff at the enormous amount of money involved in this case, it's important to remember the personal aspect of it: here are two people who used to have a great relationship. They have children. Now they're engaged in a very public debate over which of them will retain the majority of time with the children.

Divorce issues are never easy, even if you are an award-winning artist like Melissa Etheridge. Perhaps her position allows her a wider support group, but no matter who you are, it is important to surround yourself with people who understand what you are going through. This is especially important when children are involved. You need to worry not only about your own wellbeing, but also that of your children.

If you are going through a divorce or custody battle in the St. Augustine, Florida area, contact a St. Augustine Divorce Attorney who understands the emotional aspects of your situation. A qualified St. Augustine Divorce Attorney can help you through this trying time and answer any questions you may have.

February 9, 2012

LGBT Divorce in Florida? California Same-sex Divorce

Not only will Florida perform same-sex marriages, but there is no method for a legally married same-sex couple who has moved to Florida to obtain a divorce in Florida courts.

Same-sex marriage is not recognized in very many states, but evidence is showing that people are increasingly receptive to allowing same-sex marriage. With any marriage, things can go wrong, and divorce is sometimes necessary.

Unfortunately, those states that do not recognize same-sex marriage generally do not recognize same-sex divorce (this includes Florida). This is because granting a same-sex couple a divorce is basically a legal recognition that the couple was married in the first place -- something these states aren't ready to accept. If you are in one of these states, getting a divorce might require establishing residency in a state that recognizes marriage, meaning you'd have to move to that state for six months, a year, or even more.

If you were married in California, however, you may have a new option. California's governor Jerry Brown recently signed into law a bill that allows couples who were married in California to file for divorce in California -- even if the couple no longer lives there. For example, if you were married in California's Orange County, moved to Florida's Orange County, and are now seeking a divorce, the California County that married you still has jurisdiction to grant your divorce.

While this is good news for couples who were married in California, couples married in other states will still have trouble securing a divorce. If you and your partner have decided to draw your relationship to a close, talk with a Jacksonville Gay and Lesbian Attorney to discuss some of your options.

October 31, 2011

Gay Divorce and Termination of Relationships

Ponte vedra gay law and divorce.jpgAs a Jacksonville LGBT Lawyer, I receive many calls from gay and lesbians who are ending their relationships, with no formalized seperation documents in Florida that dictate what happens to jointly owned property. This issue becomes more complicated when real property is involved.

Same-sex couples do not have the inherent safeguards of the law which benefits opposite-sex or heterosexual relationships in a legal marriage as defined in Florida law.

The best advice would be to consult with a Ponte Vedra Law Firm as to how real property, other property purchased together and financial accounts should be titled, managed, and protected.

Those in a new relationship never think about the relationship ending. The best way to begin is to take certain precautions which may prevent trauma and drama should your relationship end.

Whether you call it a "living together agreement", a "domestic partnership agreement" or a "prenuptial agreement", most gay and lesbian couples will benefit by putting their intentions down in writing.

One major issue is when real estate is involved. How the deed to the home is titled, who is named on the mortgage, who is named on the utilities, these are all concerns that may reappear if the relationship "goes south".

Living circumstances are unique to each relationship, so it is advisable to consult with a Ponte Vedra Estate Planning Attorney to discuss what happens to my/her/his/our property should your relationship end.

October 27, 2011

Divorce, Adoption, and Custoday for Gay and Lesbian Families.

Orange Park Gay and Lesbian Issues.jpgFlorida same-sex couples who are raising children together or are planning to either adopt or use donor insemination should consult with an Orange Park Law Firm practicing in gay legal issues.

Florida same-sex parenting issues are an evolving area of law. The question about the legal parentage of a child can be the most important question in a couple's relationship, as well as having significance to the child.

Should an Orange Park same-sex couple break up, only the legal parent will be entitled to custody and visitation, and only they are legally responsible for the care and support of the child. This can have a profound and detrimental effect to not only the non-legal parent, but the child as well.

A "legal parent" is one who has the right to live with the child and has the authority to make decisions about the health, education and welfare of that child. A legal parent also has a legal obligation to support the child financially.

There have been several cases nationwide in which a biological or adoptive parent tries to deny the parental rights of their partner (or ex-partner). The results of these cases has been mixed.

The Deleware Supreme Court issued a ruling last spring upholding the rights of a woman who had raised a child with her former same-sex partner (a child the partner adopted but that the woman herself did not). The court identified the woman as a "de facto " parent. A "de facto" parent has been defined as a person who shares (at least) equally in primary childcare responsibilities while residing with a child for reasons other than money.

The Nebraska Supreme Court ruled that a non-biological mom has a right under the doctrine of "in loco parentis" (which recognizes a person who has acted as a parent) to be heard at a court hearing regarding custody and visitation rights of a child that she and her former partner were raising.

However, the North Carolina Supreme Court, in a decision last year, decided that a lesbian mother's second parent adoption was void.

Mixed court ruling equates to uncertainty in this area of law. It is important therefore, to take the time to speak with an Orange Park Family Law Attorney who can suggest legal documents which may help to protect you, your partner and your kids.

September 6, 2011

Florida Divorce After Gay Marriage

With the recent legalization of gay marriage in New York, gay rights activists are pushing for similar laws in other states. It appears such laws are increasingly likely; however, there is one aspect many people overlook: divorce.

Though this is not exactly a positive topic, it is nevertheless something to consider before traveling to another state (or to Canada) to obtain a gay marriage. Each state that recognizes gay marriage also recognizes divorce. Conversely, states that do not recognize gay marriage will generally not grant a gay divorce.

This is a problem for those couples who are not residents from the state or country in which they legalized the marriage. Those states that recognize gay marriage require residency for anywhere from 6 months to a year before granting a divorce. This leaves many same-sex couples with no way to legally divorce, unless they move to the state of their marriage.

This further complicates division of assets. While splitting assets after divorce is generally a routine matter, splitting assets during a gay divorce can be extremely difficult. Many of the assets will be treated as gifts, so certain taxes might apply. Currently, the tax law allows a $13,000 gift without being subject to the gift tax.  Any payment higher than that, can be taxed. There are ways around this. For example, you and your former partner can enter a settlement agreement that divides the assets in a planned amount. This could involve establishing an irrevocable trust and paying the money out over several years, thereby bypassing the gift tax. Another way is to use some of your lifetime gift tax exemption and filing a gift tax return with the IRS)

Getting a divorce is never easy, especially for same-sex couples. Nevertheless, workable solutions exist. Contact Jacksonville Attorney, Patye Davis at Apple Law Firm to discuss any questions you may have.

Contributed by Kyle R. Kelley, executive editor of Florida Coastal Law Review.

June 30, 2011

Another Small Step Toward Florida Legal Recognition of Same-Sex Relationships

Gay Focus on .jpgThe Jacksonville Gay and Lesbian community knows first hand that the legal process moves slow. Florida was after all, the last state to rule that the ban of adoption by a gay or lesbian person is unconstitutional. So, every baby step when dealing with the everyday issues and recognition towards equality, is a step in the right direction.

This month the Wyoming Supreme Court has ruled the state's courts have jurisdiction to grant the divorce of a same-sex couple who were legally married in Canada. There were, of course, limitations to their decision. However, every recognition of the status of same-sex couples (even when getting a divorce) helps.

To learn about ways that you can protect your Florida same-sex relationship, contact a Jacksonville LGBT attorney.

May 12, 2011

LGBT Community, Don't Feel Like a Criminal Twice!

Gay, Lesbian, Straight, Black, White, Whoever you are . . . we All do things we regret, including breaking Florida law. However, there are often times when gay or lesbian people are judged and convicted for none other than just their gender identity and/or sexual orientation. No one deserves to be judged in this way.

Whether your crime is a minor infraction or something more serious, you deserve an experienced criminal defense attorney who will not judge you for who you are but will counsel you for what violation you have committed. Review our Criminal Defense Blog which will provide you with interesting articles about criminal law.

April 13, 2011

Same-Sex Couples Adopt; Same-Sex Couples Marry Elsewhere

gay marriage.jpgLegal progress, although slow, continues for gay and lesbian individuals and same-sex couples in Florida and all over the country. The entertainment industry has had and continues to express sentiments about gay and lesbian issues through their characters in prime time television shows, in movies which focus on gay relationships, and in music.

The movie "The Kids are all Right" depicted a same-sex couple who had 2 children through a sperm donor, and the ensuing complications that arose when the sperm donor was identified. Most recently, a renowned bestselling author has released a new novel.

"Sing You Home" written by Jodi Picoult is a book about the challenges that same-sex couples face when marrying and adopting. It is encouraging to know that the difficult issues faced by same-sex couples are being explored and shared through a "mainstream" author. This St. Augustine Family Law Attorney looks forward to reading this book.