Everything You Need to Know about Same Sex Divorce
Same-sex marriage has been legal in New Jersey since October 21, 2013, the effective date of a trial court ruling invalidating the state’s restriction of marriage to persons of different sexes. Two years later, on June 26, 2015, the United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages in all 50 states by holding that same-sex couples have the same fundamental right to marry as opposite-sex couples in the case of Obergefell v. Hodges. As a result, same-sex couples are entitled to all of the benefits and rights as opposite-sex couples throughout the United States.
Similarly, for all practical purposes, there is no difference in the process for ending a same-sex marriage as opposed to an opposite-sex marriage. As it relates to same-sex divorce, you may be able to file for divorce in New Jersey, no matter where the marriage occurred, as long as one party has been a resident of New Jersey for at least one year (except in cases of adultery, in which case there is no residency minimum).
While the process for getting a divorce is the same for everyone, including same-sex parties, certain legal issues related to the divorce tend to arise more frequently with same-sex parties. One example is custody for children. While in opposite-sex marriages, husbands are presumed to be the biological father of their wife’s child(ren), this is not so for children of a same-sex couple. As such, it is imperative for the non-birth parent to consider a second-parent adoption to protect his or her parental rights upon divorce. In a second-parent adoption, the non-biological parent adopts the other party’s biological child. By this method, both parties have the same legal status and rights as a parent.
A second-parent adoption is a legal process that involves filing a complaint with the Superior Court of New Jersey. The process can take several months and may involve a home study and thorough investigation of the adoptive parent’s background. However, effective April 1, 2020, the background investigation, home study, and court appearance can be waived in certain circumstances.
Lyons & Associates Can Help With Your Same Sex Divorce
Fortunately, the skilled and knowledgeable New Jersey family law attorneys at Lyons & Associates, P.C. have extensive experience in handling all aspects of same sex marriage, divorce, and same sex couple litigation. We invite you to contact us online or give us a call at 908-575-9777 to schedule a free and confidential appointment with one of our attorneys.
By: Thomas F. Gilbert, Esq.