LGBTQ Family Law in Philadelphia
For several years, same-sex marriage has been legal across the United States, and same-sex spouses have enjoyed the same rights as opposite-sex couples. Yet issues of discrimination persist, and many LGBTQ couples face specific legal issues that may not arise as often—if at all—in opposite-sex marriages, or in opposite-sex relationships. Our firm is committed to representing individuals and families in a variety of legal matters, and a compassionate Philadelphia LGBTQ family law attorney at our firm can speak with you today about your case.
Common Issues in LGBTQ Family Law Cases
Many LGBTQ family law cases involve the same issues as any other family situations. Yet some LGBTQ individuals and couples may have specific questions about matters like adoption and surrogacy, or civil union matters, which are not often as central in many opposite-sex family situations. Examples of common LGBTQ family law issues we handle include but are not limited to the following:
- Same-sex divorce;
- Converting a civil union to a marriage;
- Dissolving a civil union;
- Surrogacy agreements;
- Prenuptial and post-nuptial agreements;
- Child custody issues; and
- Modifying existing court orders.
Adoption and Surrogacy in Philadelphia
Pennsylvania adoption and surrogacy laws can be complicated. While Pennsylvania generally has open laws when married couples want to adopt a child, same-sex couples can nonetheless face discrimination. Further, same-sex couples can have legal difficulties when it comes to a surrogacy arrangement in the event that they do not want to adopt.
Same-Sex Divorce Cases with Minor Children from the Marriage
When LGBTQ parents get divorced and have minor children from the marriage, they go through a child custody case and will share a child support obligation just as an opposite-sex couple would. Different states have various methods for determining and ordering child support. Many states, including Pennsylvania, now use what is known as an “income shares” model. With this model, courts look at the net incomes of both parents and combine them to determine what a total child support obligation would be if the parents were still living together in an intact household. In other words, based on the parents’ combined incomes, the court determines what the total child support obligation should be by turning to guidelines.
This model is different from a “percentage of income” model, which typically looks at only one of the parent’s incomes—usually the non-custodial parent—and then bases the child support obligation off that parent’s income alone. In nearly all child support models, the guidelines also take into account the number of children who need support.
While courts will follow the guidelines unless there is a reason to deviate, sometimes there are in fact reasons to deviate. If one parent is substantially responsible for additional expenses, or in situations in which there are other “unavoidable differences.” To be clear, LGBTQ divorce cases involving child support and custody are handled exactly as opposite-sex divorces where there are minor children.
Contact an LGBTQ Family Law Attorney in Philadelphia
When you need assistance with a family law matter pertaining to LGBTQ rights, one of the dedicated Philadelphia LGBTQ family law attorneys at our firm can assist you.
Contact van der Veen, Hartshorn and Levin for more information.