Same-sex spouses are subject to the same divorce laws heterosexual couples face in a Fairfax, Virginia courtroom.
However, some issues in a same-sex divorce are more challenging to decide. The laws are relatively new for same-sex divorces, so court decisions are still shaping the divorce process.
At The Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC, our Fairfax LGBT divorce lawyers understand the challenges and unique issues involved in a same-sex divorce.
We work closely with you to identify your goals and then work to achieve your desired outcome. We focus solely on what is in your best interests by collaborating with you during each phase of your divorce case.
Contact our law firm by calling us at (703) 271-6519 to schedule a consultation with one of our Fairfax LGBT divorce attorneys. Our legal team is here to help you as you consider your legal options and the best ways to protect yourself and your children during a divorce action.
How The Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC Can Help With Your LGBT Divorce Case in Fairfax
Your attorney’s experience matters when you’re going through a divorce. Hiring the right lawyer can make your divorce more manageable and less costly. An experienced Fairfax divorce lawyer protects your legal rights because they understand the unique nature of your marriage and how divorce laws impact your case.
Our attorneys at The Law Office of Afsana Chowdhury, PLC have been recognized for their dedication to clients and legal services by several prestigious organizations.
Attorney Afsana Chowdhury was named one of the Top 40 Under 40 lawyers by the National Academy of Family Law Attorneys and recognized as one of the best divorce lawyers by Expertise.com. Our lawyers have a Superb 10 rating with Avvo and Justia.
When you hire us to handle your divorce case in Fairfax, VA, we want things to go as smoothly as possible.
Our lawyers can help you with an LGBTQ divorce by:
- Listening to you to assess your situation and needs
- Explaining Virginia divorce laws and how they apply to your case
- Developing a strategy to achieve your desired outcome
- Negotiating divorce settlements that are in your best interest
- Preparing and filing all required documents with the court
- Advocating on your behalf during negotiations with your spouse or their attorney
You are fighting for your future. You may be fighting for your children. Whatever divorce issue you face, our Virginia family law attorneys can help.
Call our law office to schedule a case evaluation with an experienced divorce lawyer in Fairfax, Virginia.
Grounds for Dissolution of Same-Sex Marriages in Fairfax, VA
The grounds for a same-sex divorce in Virginia are the same as for any married couple. Virginia has no-fault grounds for a same-sex divorce. The couple must have lived apart for a minimum of one year if they have children or six months if they do not have children and have a signed separation agreement.
Virginia also has several fault grounds for divorces that same-sex couples can use. Those fault grounds are:
- Abandonment or desertion
- Serving at least one year in prison for a felony conviction
If you file for an LGBTQ divorce on fault grounds, you have the burden of proving the associated legal requirements. Most spouses divorce on no-fault grounds because the process can be simpler. You only need to show that you have lived apart and separated for the required time to obtain a no-fault divorce.
What Is the Difference Between an Uncontested and a Contested Divorce for Same-Sex Couples in Virginia?
A divorce proceeding is a lawsuit. One spouse sues the other spouse for a divorce. In an uncontested divorce, the spouses agree on all issues in the divorce.
For example, they agree on how to divide their assets and split parenting time with their children. They agree on the terms for child support and alimony.
In an uncontested divorce, the spouses present a divorce settlement agreement for the court to consider. The court can modify the terms of the agreement if the terms are against the law or are not in the best interests of the children. Otherwise, the court approves the agreement and grants the divorce.
However, the divorce is contested if the couple disagrees on one or more issues. The couple can negotiate a settlement with their Fairfax divorce lawyers or through mediation on one or all issues.
The case proceeds through discovery and trial preparation if the parties do not settle their differences. At trial, the judge hears from both sides and decides how to rule on the disputed issues.
Negotiating divorce settlements gives couples more control over the divorce terms. It is more costly if they go to trial and they are at the court’s mercy.
Property Division in Virginia LGBT Divorce Cases
Virginia uses the theory of equitable division to divide assets in a divorce. Equitable division means a fair distribution of assets given the facts of the case. It does not always mean an equal split of the assets.
A common issue that arises in same-sex marriages is what property is separate and what property is marital. Only marital property is subject to equitable division.
Typically, property acquired before the marriage is separate property, provided the spouse does not commingle the property or otherwise transition the asset into marital property. Almost all property acquired during the marriage is marital property.
However, many same-sex couples considered themselves to be in a committed marital relationship before their union was recognized as a legal marriage. Therefore, unless the parties have a marital agreement, it could be difficult for a court to determine what property is subject to division without each spouse’s agreement.
Custody and Parenting Time Agreements in a Virginia Same-Sex Divorce
Another issue that can be challenging in an LGBT divorce is child custody and parenting time. Virginia recognizes legal and physical custody.
Legal custody is the right to make decisions for your child regarding issues such as healthcare, education, religious upbringing, and extracurricular activities. Physical custody is when a parent is considered the primary caregiver for the child.
Typically, the courts begin with the presumption that parents should share joint custody of the child. Maintaining a close relationship with both parents is usually in the child’s best interest unless one parent is unfit.
Judges must consider the factors listed in Virginia Code §20-124.3 to determine what would be in the best interest of the child. The child’s best interest is always the primary factor used to decide whether to grant sole or joint custody.
When a child is not the biological child of one of the parents, the parent has no legal right to claim custody or visitation. Many different scenarios could impact the court’s decision. One of the ways to avoid this problem is for the non-biological parent to adopt the child.
Child support is based on the Virginia child support guidelines. There is a rebuttable presumption for the amount of child support based on both parents’ income and the number of children to be supported. However, judges have the ability to deviate from the presumed child support payments based on relevant factors.
Hiring an experienced Fairfax LGBT divorce is the best way to ensure that your rights as a parent are protected and the best interests of your children.
Alimony and Spousal Support in a Virginia LGBT Divorce
Spousal support and alimony are the same thing. Both terms refer to financial support paid from one spouse to another spouse during or after a divorce. Virginia courts decide whether to grant alimony on a case-by-case basis.
Same-sex couples can qualify for alimony payments based on the same criteria as heterosexual couples. If a judge determines that a spouse needs financial support and the other spouse has the means to pay support, they can award alimony.
The duration and amount of spousal support depend on the factors in the case. Factors judges consider for alimony include:
- The income for both people
- The standard of living the couples shared during the marriage
- The financial needs of a spouse
- The duration of the marriage
- The health and age of each spouse
- The length of time a partner did not work during the marriage
- The cost and time of obtaining the skills and education to enhance earning capacity
- The decisions regarding employment, careers, parenting, economics, and education made during the marriage that impact the future earning capacity of each spouse
- The extent a spouse contributed to their spouse’s education and career
- The assets and resources of each spouse
Judges may also consider other factors that are relevant to spousal support. For example, the judge may consider tax consequences or the grounds for the divorce when deciding alimony questions.
Schedule a Consultation With Our Fairfax LGBT Divorce Lawyers
We are committed to helping you achieve a divorce in an efficient and timely manner. Our legal team is here to answer questions and provide sound legal advice so you can make informed decisions about your future. Call us today to request a case review with an experienced Fairfax LGBT divorce attorney.