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Learn About LGBT Divorce

By Sheryl Rentz on July 3, 2017

Recent changes in the legal landscape that pertain to the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender communities have resulted in new challenges when it comes to family law. In particular, in Pennsylvania, the case Whitewood v. Wolf was a federal lawsuit that successfully challenged the Pennsylvania marriage laws, which were amended in 1996 to ban same-sex marriage. The decision of the district court in May 2014 found that the ban violated the Due Process and Equal Protection clauses of the United States Constitution and thus made same-sex marriage legal in Pennsylvania. Of course, a year later, the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges legalized same-sex marriage nationwide.

These changes, still only a few years old, have been a great boon for LGBT rights, but have also created new issues in the way family law is adjudicated in the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania—considering that those laws pertaining to marriage, divorce, and child custody were crafted with only heterosexual couples in mind.

Civil Unions:  A Legal Gray Area

If you are a person who identifies as LGBT and you are going through a divorce, you probably have many questions about the process during what is surely a traumatic and stressful time for you and your family. If you have children, then that complicates the situation even further, and makes reaching a fair and equitable settlement of the utmost importance.

For example, many LGBT couples were wed prior to these recent court cases through “civil unions,” called domestic partnerships in other states. The new laws do not reference these legal statuses, and so it is not always clear how they will be affected. This legal gray area can make it difficult for couples wishing to separate. While a recent ruling at the end of last year may have paved the way for couples in civil unions that were entered into in other states to divorce, there could still be some unexpected hurdles.

Divorce in Pennsylvania

Divorces in Pennsylvania typically fall into one of two categories: an at-fault divorce, in which one spouse accuses the other of mistreatment or adultery; or a no-fault divorce, meaning that both parties have agreed to the divorce, and which doesn’t require an actual hearing.

Because of the recent legalization of same-sex marriage, there may be fewer attorneys in Montgomery County who have the expertise to handle family law issues that pertain to same-sex couples. Sheryl R. Rentz, however, has made learning the intricacies of legal issues related to same-sex marriages a priority. The legal team at the Law Offices of Sheryl R. Rentz, P.C. can help you efficiently handle your divorce and achieve the best possible outcome for your family. To speak with a Montgomery County same-sex family law attorney, call (610) 645-0100 today and schedule a free consultation.

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