Since Florida legalized same-sex marriage in the U.S. Supreme Court case Brenner v. Scott in 2015, gay couples have been able to enjoy the financial and emotional benefits of marriage.
Unfortunately, same-sex divorce is just as common as heterosexual divorce.
But, since same-sex marriage is relatively new, divorce laws specific to LGBT couples don’t exist. Because of this, Florida family law courts are struggling with the unique circumstances involved in gay divorces.
Because of the particular issues involved in an LGBT divorce, it’s important that these couples seek help from an experienced Florida gay divorce lawyer. At McMichen, Cinami & Demps, we understand the complexity of same-sex divorce and can help individuals with all the legal aspects of this transitional period.
Contact our Orlando, Florida law firm today online or by phone to set up a free consultation. We’re here to help you understand your rights and fight to achieve the results that are best for you and your family.
Divorce Requirements For Same Sex Couples in Florida
There are several requirements for filing for divorce – or dissolution of marriage – in Florida. These include:
A six-month residency requirement for one of the parties; and
The petition has to be filed in a county where either or both spouses reside
Also, the party seeking the divorce must show grounds for divorce. Florida law only recognizes two legal grounds for divorce. The filing spouse must prove that either the marriage is irretrievably broken or that one spouse is mentally incapacitated.
Child Custody Issues In Florida Gay Divorces
Custody is governed by Florida law and granted based on what parenting plan and time-sharing schedules are in the best interest of the child.
Child custody cases and parental rights are especially complicated for divorcing gay couples. This is due, in part, because adoption and the use of reproductive technology is common. Under Florida law, a spouse that doesn’t have parental rights will not be able to seek visitation or custody. They are also exempt from having to pay child support.
In adoption cases, both parents have equal parental rights. This means that each parent can receive custody and visitation, as well as child support.
In sperm donor or surrogate cases, typically one of the parents is the biological parent of the child. This becomes important in cases where the non-biological parent hasn’t adopted the child: the biological parent will receive custody over a non-biological parent.
Spousal Support For Same-Sex Couples
Alimony, also known as maintenance or spousal support, is financial support paid to one spouse by the other.
There are different types of alimony for various circumstances, including:
Temporary: awarded to temporarily support the spouse until the divorce is final
Permanent alimony: given in cases where the receiving spouse would otherwise be unable to achieve the same standard of living on their own
Durational alimony: a specific amount of alimony paid during a period of time
Bridge-the-gap alimony: an award designed to help one spouse transition from married to single life
Rehabilitative alimony: allows one spouse to receive support while obtaining an education or specialized job training
Absent a prenuptial or postnuptial agreement, Florida determines the amount of alimony owed by an assortment of factors, including the length of the marriage. This is problematic for gay divorcing couples, largely because marriage equality has only existed in Florida since 2015.
For example, permanent alimony is only available to couples who have been married for 17 years or longer. Also, the period of durational alimony can’t be greater than the amount of time the couple was married.
Do not hesitate to contact our experienced attorneys for help with all of your LGBT divorce issues. We’re prepared to go above and beyond ot help you during this challenging time.
Generally, the court can only deviate from the statutory amount of support by 5%. But, in special circumstances where the guideline amount is “unjust or inappropriate,” the court has greater flexibility in adjusting the awarded amount.
Once legally married, the same property division rules apply when gay couples divorce as when heterosexual married couples divorce.
There are two types of property: marital property and separate property.
Marital property is subject to division by the courts. Separate property is owned solely by one spouse and can’t be divided. Property is separate or non-marital property if one spouse owned the property prior to the marriage, or received it during the marriage as a gift or inheritance.
Florida is an equitable distribution state, meaning that marital property is separated fairly but not necessarily equally. Now that Florida recognizes same-sex marriage, this rule applies to LGBT couples getting divorced. The court can award whole assets, split the assets, or sell the assets and divide the proceeds.
Experienced Florida LGBT Family Lawyers
Marriage, for heterosexual couples and LGBT spouses, can be challenging. Sometimes a marriage just won’t work out. When that happens, you deserve help navigating your divorce.
At McMichen, Cinami & Demps, our same-sex divorce attorneys specialize in gay marriage and divorce-related issues. For more information on how we can assist you with your marriage, divorce, custody, or other family law case, contact us today for your free consultation.