The Scottsdale divorce attorneys at Canterbury Law Group can help same sex couples navigate divorce. Whether you are considering filing for an Arizona same sex divorce or you’ve already been served with a divorce petition, it is critical to speak with an attorney immediately to assess your legal rights and take the necessary steps to protect them.
Same sex marriage in Arizona means that lesbian and gay couples are guarded by identical benefits as heterosexual married couples. In fact, gay couples have the legal right to obtain a divorce in Arizona and attain the same protections and responsibilities under the state’s domestic relations laws for division of property and debt as heterosexuals, including Arizona community property laws. Arizona’s community property system is designed to provide a more fair distribution of assets and debts at divorce, including the possibility of spousal maintenance.
One unique issue for lesbian and gay couples is determining the length of the marriage, which can be crucial for calculating spousal maintenance and / or the division of retirement benefits. For example, a couple may have entered into a civil union in State A, later received a domestic partnership designation in State B, and finally gotten married in State C. In a situation like this, the questions become: When did the marriage begin, and where? Ultimately, the first date and place where they had a valid marriage is the legal date which will be used.
Currently, the LGBTQ community is still waiting for legal clarity on custody issues in divorce, which includes child custody and adoption. Sometimes there are children of a prior heterosexual relationship that one of the parties brings to the marriage. Other times the couple decides to have their own child or children, using options such as sperm donors or donor egg and surrogacy if the couple is male.
Contrary to popular belief, a non-biological parent does not automatically gain the status of a legal parent merely by virtue of being married at the time of the birth. Neither, unfortunately, does Arizona currently have a provision for adding a second mother or second father to a child’s birth certificate, which can be important for some legal purposes as well as genealogy or simply personal satisfaction. They also would have no rights regarding caring for the child or children should the other parent die or otherwise be incapacitated.
However, now that same sex marriage is recognized in Arizona and throughout the country, a step-parent adoption proceeding is an option to address this problem. For more on these issues, consider Canterbury Law Group in Scottsdale, AZ as your go-to legal problem solvers. 480-240-0040.