Virginia Beach LGBTQ and Same-Sex Divorce Lawyer
Virginia has recognized same-sex marriages since October 6, 2014. Once same-sex marriage was officially legalized, same-sex divorce also became a legal reality in Virginia. Unfortunately, the topic of same-sex divorce has not gotten the level of attention it deserves, and many LGBTQ couples who are thinking of divorcing may not have a strong grasp of the law as it relates to same-sex divorces.
While these laws are relatively new, the compassionate same-sex divorce attorney at Hardt Law, P.L.L.C. is intimately familiar with the most up-to-date legislation and has the resources to protect your parenting and property rights and help you navigate the divorce process successfully.
Contact a Virginia Beach same-sex divorce lawyer from Hardt Law, P.L.L.C. today at (757) 962-5588 for a free consultation.
LGBTQ Divorce Requirements
In order to file for divorce in Virginia, at least one of the two spouses must have lived in Virginia for a minimum of six months. This is true for all married couples divorcing in Virginia.
However, there is one key difference for LGBTQ couples. The state of Virginia can only formalize a divorce if the marriage was lawful before the couple moved to Virginia. If the marriage was not legal at the time in the state where it was performed, then Virginia courts won’t recognize the marriage or grant a divorce.
Property Division in LGBTQ Divorces
In Virginia, the courts apply the legal concept of “equitable distribution” to divide marital property between two divorcing spouses. Equitable distribution doesn’t necessarily require that the couple’s assets be evenly divided. The court must simply divide the assets in a manner that is fair. The concept of equitable distribution applies to same-sex marriages in much the same way that it applies to heterosexual marriages.
However, disputes can arise when determining what assets qualify as marital property in a same-sex divorce and what assets are separate (personal) property. In Virginia, the courts can only divide marital property, but unless you have a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement in place, it will be up to the court to define what property is jointly owned by the couple.
For the purposes of property division, the court might determine that a marriage began when Virginia started legally recognizing LGBTQ marriages, when same-sex marriage became legal in the state where the couple was living at the time of their marriage, or when the couple began cohabiting. The court could also determine what constitutes marital property using the date the couple decided they were married.
Because property division in LGBTQ divorces is not clear-cut, and every court is different, we at Hardt Law, P.L.L.C. advise hiring an experienced Virginia LGBTQ divorce attorney to offer you legal advice and ensure that you receive the assets you are entitled to.
The Value of Prenuptial and Postnuptial Agreements
While most couples who get married intend to remain married for the rest of their lives, things don’t always work out that way. In fact, around 50 percent of marriages in the United States ultimately end in divorce. While many couples understandably don’t wish to acknowledge the possibility of divorce when tying the knot, creating prenuptial and postnuptial agreements can be incredibly valuable down the road as a kind of insurance policy to protect your property and assets.
Domesticating Orders from Other States
Court orders from other states are the jurisdiction of the state where they were created. If one of the two former spouses moves to Virginia from another state, it can be more difficult for those orders to be enforced. To enforce out-of-state orders in Virginia, you will probably need an attorney’s help.
At Hardt Law, P.L.L.C., we have experience helping divorced couples enforce visitation and custody orders, decrees of divorce, child support orders, spousal support (alimony) orders, as well as child custody modifications, child support modifications, and alimony modification orders.
Importance of Obtaining Custody & Visitation/Parenting Time Orders
If you have a child, the court will need to determine child custody and visitation (also called parenting time) unless you and your spouse have already come up with your own custody agreement.
In general, judges tend to direct parents toward joint custody as long as the relationship is generally amicable. In a joint custody order, both parents have shared legal and physical custody of the child. The child will reside with both parents on an alternating schedule that is agreed upon by the two ex-spouses. Both parents also have the authority to make decisions for the child.
In rarer cases, a court may order sole physical and legal custody to one parent. The court could also award sole physical custody to one parent but allow both parents to have legal custody of the child. In other words, the child would live with one of the parents, but both parents would still have decision-making power. The most important factor the court will consider when determining child custody is the best interests of the child.
If one parent gets primary custody, the court may establish a visitation schedule for the other parent. That way, the child gets to spend time with the noncustodial parent. Divorcing couples will have an opportunity to create their own visitation schedule, but if the two parties can’t agree, the court will order one.
Value of Obtaining Simple Estate Planning Tools: POA, DPOA, Healthcare POA, Living Will
Estate planning involves establishing how you would like your assets and property to be distributed upon your death through a written estate plan. Common examples of assets include homes, cars, jewelry, furniture, farm equipment, investments, securities, retirement accounts, heirlooms, and fine art.
Your estate plan may also include other legal documents, such as your POA (power of attorney), DPOA (durable power of attorney), healthcare POA, trusts, and wills. All of these documents are legally binding.
Estate plans are designed to be modified as you go through life. When big life changes happen, such as a divorce, you may wish to update your estate plan to reflect those changes.
Modifying your estate plan to reflect your current circumstances can be challenging without legal help, so we recommend speaking with a seasoned estate planning attorney at Hardt Law, P.L.L.C. to ensure that your legacy is properly protected after a divorce.
Contact a Virginia Beach Same-Sex Divorce Attorney Today
While there are many divorce attorneys in Virginia with experience guiding clients through the divorce process, not all divorce attorneys are familiar with the legal intricacies of same-sex divorce, especially given Virginia’s new and developing laws around the issue.
At Hardt Law, P.L.L.C., we have the legal resources to walk you through every step in the divorce process, help you understand your rights, resolve disputes over custody and child support, and represent you in court. We are committed to using our knowledge of same-sex divorce issues to pursue the best possible outcome for your case.