Same-Sex Divorce in Cary

Same-sex marriage was not recognized in North Carolina until a Supreme Court decision granted LGBTQ couples the right to be legally married in 2015. Unfortunately, just as with heterosexual marriages, same-sex marriages do not always last, leaving the partners with some major decisions. If you’re anticipating a same-sex divorce in Cary, an experienced divorce lawyer, especially one who can provide mediation services, can help ensure that your rights are protected throughout the divorce process and that you and your spouse have addressed all the legal issues (as well as LGBTQ specific matters) involved in ending a marriage.

Preparing for a Same-Sex Divorce

In North Carolina, couples who wish to divorce must be separated for at least one year (with the intent of at least one spouse for the separation to be permanent). At least one of the spouses must reside in North Carolina for at least six months before they are eligible to seek a divorce in the state. The marriage did not have to happen in North Carolina in order for you to file for divorce here.

Because North Carolina is an equitable distribution state, you will need to list all of the assets that you and your spouse have acquired during the course of your marriage, as these will be distributed between the two of you. Additionally, in preparation for the divorce, you should have a good idea of your income and expenses and those of your spouse. Income is often considered when determining certain aspects of a divorce, including asset distribution and alimony if it is requested.

Do I Need a Divorce Lawyer?

While a lawyer is not legally required to file for divorce in North Carolina, having one is strongly recommended, particularly if you have children or high-valued assets, as both of these factors require specific considerations and are often sticking points that must be addressed. A divorce lawyer provides both knowledge of the rights you have when it comes to ending your marriage, as well as the common issues that can cause problems for you down the road if specific issues are not addressed properly at the time of the separation or divorce. A mistake could not only be costly but significantly impact the rest of your life. Working with an experienced lawyer allows you more control over the outcome of your case.

Unique Considerations in Same-Sex Divorces

In most aspects, a same-sex divorce is identical to the process for heterosexual couples. You have a right to ask for alimony from your spouse if your situation warrants it, and there will be an equitable division of your marital assets and debts. It should be noted, however, that “equitable” does not always mean equal. Contrary to popular belief, the courts in North Carolina do not divide assets by awarding each spouse exactly 50 percent, but rather consider the whole picture of each individual’s income, ability to earn an income, and other benefits that each spouse possesses independently along with the combination of marital assets.

Same-sex divorces often become confusing when it comes to determining custody and support of minor children, as the courts continue to place a high emphasis on the biological relationship of the child to each parent. If the child is only biologically related to one spouse and a legal adoption by the other spouse has not occurred, this legal focus on biology can negatively impact the spouse who does not share a biological connection to the child. It is especially important in this instance to find a Cary lawyer who has experience in cases that include these types of familial relationships. You don’t want to lose your child because your lawyer didn’t know what they were doing.

What are the Benefits of Mediation in a Same-Sex Divorce?

Mediation refers to a session, or series of sessions, in which you and your spouse (and both parties’ lawyers) meet with a third-party mediator to discuss the issues pertaining to your separation and divorce to develop either an Agreement or a Consent Order in which both spouses have a say in its provisions. Mediation allows you to come to a resolution without the Court’s involvement. The session is facilitated by a North Carolina family law attorney acting as a mediator, going back and forth between the separate rooms you and your spouse are in. We recommend that you bring an attorney with you, as the mediator cannot tell you or give you advice about what to include in your agreement and cannot provide information about divorce law. Also, the mediator cannot write the agreement for you. The mediator’s job is to keep negotiations moving forward. If requested, the mediator can suggest potential alternatives for resolving the issues being addressed.

As with any divorce, mediation provides same-sex partners with:

  • A less expensive, less time-consuming divorce process
  • The ability to have one’s own personal circumstances and views considered during the preparation of the settlement
  • A focus on working together on solutions rather than an adversarial court process focused on one side “winning” over the other
  • Privacy while discussing assets, debts, income, expenses, support, child custody, and other matters that become part of the public record when the courts are left to make the decisions
  • A method for resolving divorce matters that does not emphasize gender differences or does not get hung up on biological connections between parents and children, but rather focuses on the children’s connections with each parent

Finding the Best Cary Same-Sex Divorce Lawyer for You

Just as there is no one-size-fits-all marriage, there is also not a universal solution for divorce. If you’re planning to seek a Cary same-sex divorce, it is important to find a lawyer that understands the unique considerations of your situation and is able to find a way to resolve your family law issues in a way that is respectful of the rights of both partners.

Triangle Smart Divorce understands the complex nature of same-sex divorces, and with over 90 years of combined experience in North Carolina Family Law, we’ve seen it all. For more information about mediation and the other services we can provide, contact us to schedule a consultation.


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