Bethesda, MD Same-Sex Marriage Lawyers
Experienced, Zealous Representation for the LGBT Community in Family Law Matters Including Divorce, Adoption, Custody & Support.
Same-sex marriage laws have undergone major changes in the Bethesda, MD area, and since Jan. 1, 2013, gay marriage is now recognized and legal in the state. In June 2013, the Supreme Court also struck down a key part of the Federal Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA), declaring that same-sex couples who are legally married deserve equal rights to the benefits under federal law belonging to all other married couples.
These are landmark wins for the gay rights movement—but the changes in law also create a new environment, one in which many lawyers lack skill and experience. At Andalman & Flynn, our same-sex marriage attorneys have extensive experience with alternative family law, with a record of success throughout Maryland. To speak with one of our same-sex marriage attorneys in the Bethesda, MD area, please contact Mary Ellen Flynn or Kate McDonough.
Divorce for Gay and Lesbian Couples in Bethesda
The process of obtaining a Judgment of Divorce or a Child Custody Order in an alternative family can seem uncertain and ambiguous due to Bethesda law only recently recognizing same-sex marriages. While the process can be similar in some ways to that of a heterosexual divorce, it is important to have a Bethesda, MD same-sex marriage attorney who is at the forefront of this issue and is able to recognize the key differences.
Prenuptial Agreements: Essential Planning for Many Same-Sex Couples
We know that when same-sex couples are contemplating marriage, it is not exactly “business as usual.” The system is facing constant changes that can greatly impact the advice we give our clients in Bethesda, MD.
We’ve found that one of the most consistent and important pieces of advice we give clients who are preparing to enter into a same-sex marriage is this: keep in mind that your ability to marry is more than just a civil rights issue. Marriage will impact your ownership rights to property and impose life-long obligations on you and your partner. Therefore, we recommend you not only consult with a same-sex marriage attorney in the Bethesda area before getting married, but consider a prenuptial agreement as well.
A premarital or prenuptial agreement takes into consideration the rights, responsibilities, and risks that comes with same-sex marriage and any marriage in general. Some of the issues that are most commonly addressed in prenuptial agreements for our gay and lesbian clients in Bethesda include:
- How the planned marriage could impact children (either existing children or those that may be born in the future).
- The “recognition” of the marriage by other states, as only a minority of states presently recognizes same-sex marriage. It is important to know what the legal ramifications are of, for example, getting married in Bethesda, MD and later relocating to Virginia.
- What the tax implications are. Will titling a home jointly by the parties result in one party being required to pay gift taxes? Will transferring a home as part of a future divorce create an unwanted taxable capital gains obligation?
- Child custody and support obligations, as well as spousal support (also known as alimony).
- Other economic issues, such as valuation and division of assets, estate planning, retirement benefits, etc.
Custody, Second-Parent Adoptions, and Assisted Reproductive Technology in Bethesda, MD
Not all states allow gay and lesbian couples to jointly adopt children. Many times, one of the partners in a gay or lesbian couple will formally adopt a child and the parties will continue to live as a family unit with their children, without taking any steps to recognize the non-adoptive parent’s legal rights to the child. If the same-sex couple then relocates to a state (or country) that does not acknowledge same-sex marriage, the second parent loses all recognized legal rights to the child.
It is particularly devastating when, following the breakdown of a same-sex couple’s relationship, a non-biological parent relocates to a state (or country) that does not acknowledge same-sex marriage, and the non-biological parent’s rights to the child are severed. The only way to guarantee parental rights is through “second-parent adoption.”
Second-parent adoptions also tend to be important in cases of assisted reproductive technology. When same-sex couples use assisted reproductive technology to have children, their children may have genetic material from one or both parents and may have been carried in the womb of one parent or of a surrogate. Many states will not permit two mothers or two fathers to be listed on a child’s birth certificate, even when the child is conceived through assisted reproductive technology.
In Bethesda, MD, a same-sex, non-biological parent may be able to adopt his/her partner’s adoptive or biological child without terminating the first parent’s legal rights. This works through a process known as second-parent adoption. Andalman & Flynn same-sex marriage lawyers are well-versed in Bethesda’s second-parent adoption procedures, including intricacies such as knowing which court is the best to file your adoption petition.
The representation you choose could impact the future of your family. Don’t settle for inexperienced lawyers who are unfamiliar with alternative family law in the Bethesda, MD area. Choose the zealous same-sex marriage attorneys at Andalman & Flynn. Contact us schedule your initial consult today!