In October 2013 New Jersey legalized same sex marriage. Now same sex couples that choose to terminate their marriage will have to file a Complaint for Divorce and through the divorce process. This process involves fairly dividing assets acquired during the marriage, custody of children, support of a spouse, also known as alimony and child support.
When a same sex couple marries if they have a civil union or domestic partnership it is not automatically dissolved and continues to exist. If a couple separates and wishes to terminate their relationship not only is a divorce necessary so is the dissolution of the domestic partnership and civil union.
Same-Sex (LGBT) Child Custody/Visitation
Unique circumstances often face same-sex couples especially regarding their children. A same sex couple that decides to parent a child together often face legal road blocks that need to be overcome and sometimes are not. In many same sex relationships one partner is the biological or adoptive parent of the child and the other parent has no legal connection to the child. This does not mean that a parent-child bond has not occurred between the partner and the child.
Robin T. Wernik, Esq. gained national recognition after successfully representing the non-biological parent in V.C. v. M.J.B. 163, N.J. 200 (2000) a New Jersey Supreme Court case (see Supreme Court Case). In the V.C. case the court found that a family-type relationship can be other than a traditional heterosexual family. Therefore, recognizing a broader definition of "family." The V.C. court found that a partner can be a psychological parent of his/her partner's child if certain criteria were met in a four prong test. The four prongs are:
- That the biological or adoptive parent consented to, and fostered the petitioner's format and establishes a parent-like relationship with the child.
- That the petitioner and the child lived together in the same household.
- That the petitioner assumed the obligations of parenthood.
- That the petitioner has been in a parental role for a length of time sufficient to have established with the child a parental bond.
Same-Sex (LGBT) Adoption
In a same sex relationship often one partner is the biological (or adoptive parent) of the couples' child. The non-legal parent needs to have his or her rights protected by a second parent adoption. Please call our experienced same-sex adoption attorneys to discuss this process.
Handling a Range of Legal Issues
We have extensive experience in all aspects of same-sex (LGBT) family law issues such as:
- Dissolution of Civil Unions and Domestic Partnerships
- Gay and Lesbian divorce
- Same-sex support or alimony
- Same-sex distribution of property
- LGBT adoptions
Contact us to discuss your case and to learn how we can help you.