Same-sex marriage has been legally recognized by the state of Florida since 2015. Along with the right to marry, same-sex couples have the fundamental right to divorce in Florida. As a practical matter, however, a same-sex divorce case may involve certain issues that rarely, if ever, arise in opposite-sex divorces. If you are seeking a same-sex divorce in Florida, hiring an attorney who understands domestic partnerships, civil unions, and related matters may be advantageous. At Ellis and Bryant, we realize that many same-sex couples were in committed, long-term relationships before marriage equality extended to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender couples in Florida. Our Jacksonville family law attorneys are prepared to confront any issues that may arise in your same-sex divorce and pursue an outcome that meets your specific needs.Same-Sex Divorce in Florida
The laws and legal procedures for a Florida divorce apply equally to both same-sex and opposite-sex couples. As an initial matter, certain criteria must be met for a Florida court to have jurisdiction over a divorce action. First, the parties must be legally married to each other. A valid marriage certificate issued by any state is sufficient proof of a legal marriage. Second, residency must be established. To satisfy the residency requirement, at least one of the parties must have resided in Florida for six months prior to filing the petition for dissolution of marriage. Finally, there must be grounds for divorce. Florida, like many states, provides for no-fault divorce, which only requires one party to prove that the marriage is irretrievably broken. If you meet these qualifications, you can get divorced in Florida.
A final judgment of dissolution of marriage is entered by the judge once the major issues are resolved. These generally include the parenting plan, equitable distribution of marital property, alimony, and child support. There are a number of reasons why these issues may be more complicated in a same-sex divorce case, particularly in a contested divorce. Some examples are provided below.Property Division
In a divorce, the assets, savings, property, and debt acquired by the spouses during their marriage must be divided between them. If the parties cannot agree on this issue, their marital property is subject to equitable distribution by the court. In making its decision, the court considers all relevant factors, including the duration of the marriage. Reaching a fair outcome may be more challenging in the divorce of a same-sex couple who were in a registered domestic partnership before they were legally allowed to wed. Issues may also arise with respect to commingled funds and joint property purchased before their marriage was recognized.Alimony
Spousal support may be sought in a same-sex divorce case. If the court finds that alimony is appropriate based on the need of the recipient and payor’s ability to pay, the court must then determine the proper type and amount of support. In making this decision, the court considers factors such as the duration of the marriage and the standard of living established during the marriage. For same-sex couples who were in a civil union or domestic partnership that preceded their marriage, it may be necessary to prove that exceptional circumstances require a more appropriate type of alimony.Parenting Time
Before gay marriage was recognized in Florida, same-sex couples had children together through adoption, sperm donation, or surrogate. In general, both parents have equal rights and responsibilities with respect to their child. However, custody determinations may be complicated if a non-biological parent did not legally adopt the child.Retain an Experienced Jacksonville Lawyer for a Same-Sex Divorce
If you have questions about same-sex marriage or divorce in Florida, you can contact an attorney for reliable advice. At Ellis and Bryant, our Jacksonville divorce attorneys can assist with same-sex divorce and property division, as well as child custody disputes, adoption, and many other issues. We represent people in family law cases throughout Duval and Clay Counties, particularly Orange Park, Jacksonville Beach, and Middleburg. Request a free consultation with a skilled divorce lawyer by calling our office at (904) 551-4120 or contacting us online.