Andalman & Flynn: Experienced, Zealous Representation for the LGBT Community in Family Law Matters Including Divorce, Adoption, Custody & Support
Great strides have been made to same-sex marriage laws in Maryland, and since Jan. 1, 2013, gay marriage is now recognized and legal in the state. Shortly thereafter, in June 2013, the Supreme Court 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 that go to all other married couples.
While these developments are landmark wins for the gay rights movement, the changes in law create a new environment. This is why the best lawyer for same-sex couples is one who is skilled and experienced in handling the legal matters of non-traditional families. To speak to a same-sex marriage attorney in the Montgomery County, MD area, please contact Mary Ellen Flynn today.
Divorce for Gay and Lesbian Couples
For same-sex couples, the process of obtaining a Judgment of Divorce or a Child Custody Order can seem uncertain and ambiguous due to the law only recently recognizing their marriage. While there are similarities between same-sex divorce and heterosexual divorce, it is important to have an attorney who is at the forefront of this issue and is able to recognize the differences.
Prenuptial Agreements: Essential Planning for Many Same-Sex Couples
We know that when same-sex couples are contemplating marriage, it is not “business as usual.” The ever-changing system greatly impacts the advice we give our clients.
One of the most consistent and important pieces of advice that we give clients who are preparing to marry their same-sex partner is this: keep in mind that your ability to marry is more than just a civil rights issue. Marriage will affect your ownership rights to property and impose life-long obligations on you. Therefore, we recommend you consult with a same-sex marriage attorney before you get married and consider a prenuptial agreement as well.
A premarital or prenuptial agreement will take into consideration the rights, responsibilities, and risks that comes with any marriage, including same-sex marriages. Some of the issues that are most commonly addressed in prenuptial agreements for our gay and lesbian clients are as follows:
- The impact of the planned marriage on the children of the parties (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 Maryland and relocating to Virginia.
- Tax implications (i.e. 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, and retirement benefits.
Custody, Second Parent Adoptions, and Assisted Reproductive Technology in Maryland
Not all states allow gay and lesbian couples to adopt children jointly. Many times, one of the partners in a gay or lesbian couple will formally adopt a child, and the parties, with their child, will continue to live as a family unit without doing anything else to recognize the non-adoptive parent’s legal rights to the child. If the same-sex couple then moves to one of the many states (or countries) that do not acknowledge same-sex marriage, the second parent loses all recognized 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, thus severing the non-biological parent’s rights to the child. The only way to guarantee that the relationship is enforced is through a “second-parent adoption.”
Another area where second-parent adoptions are quite common and very important is in the area of assisted reproductive technology. When same-sex couples use assisted reproductive technology to have children, a child may have genetic material from one or both parents and the child 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 including those conceived through assisted reproductive technology.
In Maryland, a same-sex, non-biological parent may be permitted to adopt his/her partner’s adoptive or biological child without terminating the first parent’s legal rights, through a process known as second parent adoption. Andalman & Flynn same-sex marriage lawyers are well-versed in the second parent adoption procedures, including intricacies such as knowing which court is the best to file your adoption petition.
When it comes to your family, don’t settle for second rate representation. Please contact our experienced same-sex marriage lawyers in Maryland if you need assistance with or would like to discuss assisted reproductive technology, second parent adoptions, or other legal matters.