Legal Issues for Same-Sex Couples

Historically, the laws regarding divorce and child custody for same-sex couples has been highly complex. The complexity of these laws was reduced once the Supreme Court ruled in favor of same-sex marriage across the United States. Despite the legality of same-sex marriage, there are still many legal issues facing same-sex couples, particularly when it comes to divorce and child custody.

The family attorneys at our firm assist same-sex couples and unmarried couples with these issues and provide top quality legal guidance in navigating the Michigan family court system.

Same-Sex Marriage in Michigan

Syllabus for the U.S. Supreme Court Case Obergefell v. Hodges legalizing same-sex marriageOn June 26, 2015 the Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges legalized same-sex marriages throughout the United States. In Michigan, same-sex marriages performed on March 21 and March 22, 2014 are also legally valid in the State.

Additionally, any same-sex marriages performed anywhere in the United States after June 26, 2015 are considered valid under Michigan law. U.S. The Supreme Court also instructed all states to recognize marriages that were legally valid in other states before June 26, 2015.

In other words, some states legalized same-sex marriages before the historic Supreme Court ruling. Michigan recognizes the legally allowed out of state marriages performed before June 26, 2015 as valid unions. If you have any questions about your marriage’s validity, it’s advised to speak to an attorney.

Unmarried Same-Sex Couples

It’s important to note that the Supreme Court recognized same-sex marriages in Obergefell. Yet, no protection was given to unmarried same-sex partners in this ruling. Even within States, various counties and cities have different rules regarding healthcare benefits from a partner’s employer, hospital visitation and guardianship. However, ALL States must recognize same-sex marriages as legally valid and sadly, some of these unions may end in divorce.

If and when you feel the need to file for divorce, or if you have been served with divorce papers; contact an experienced attorney that can successfully navigate the court system.

Same-Sex Divorce in Michigan

Divorce is a stressful period for all couples. Any time a loving relationship ends people are very vulnerable and may make poor decisions. This is why working with an attorney is vital when filing for a divorce or going through a legal dispute. The following may answer some of your basic questions regarding Michigan’s divorce laws:

  • Q. Do I need to prove fault to get a divorce
    No. Michigan is a no fault divorce State. However, fault may influence custody rights, property rights and spousal support.
  • Q. What are grounds for divorce
    In Michigan, the grounds for divorce are if there has been a “breakdown of the marriage relationship to the extent that the objects of matrimony have been destroyed and there remains no reasonable likelihood that the marriage can be preserved” a person may file for divorce.
  • Q. How long does a divorce take
    If there are no children, after filing a divorce has a minimum waiting period of 60 days. If children are involved, there is a minimum 6 month waiting period.
  • Q. Where do I file for divorce?
    One of the parties must be a resident of the State for at least 180 days to file for divorce. Additionally, the filer must live in the county where the divorce is being filed for the previous 10 days. An attorney can assist you with filing for divorce.
  • Q. How is property divided in a divorce?
    Generally speaking, any property acquired during the marriage is divided equally. If a same-sex couple has been together for decades and discriminatory laws prohibited them from getting legally married, a judge may consider that when dividing property during divorce proceedings. Since marriage equality is very new it’s important to seek legal counsel to protect your rights during a divorce.
  • Q. What about spousal support when a same-sex marriage ends in divorce?
    This is a complicated issue when ANY marriage ends. When it comes to spousal support, a judge will look at the number of years a couple was together and the financial need of each involved party. Many times a settlement may be reached out of a courtroom.
  • Q. How is child custody handled in same-sex divorce cases?
    In all divorce cases, the best interests of the child should be the deciding factor in who retains custody. Also, visitation schedules are established based on the child’s welfare. However, in same-sex marriages one parent may be a biological parent. If the other parent did not formally adopt the child, the biological parent may receive preferential treatment.
  • Q. Should a same-sex couple have a prenuptial agreement?
    Since many same-sex couples were together for many years before allowed to legally marry in Michigan, a prenuptial agreement makes sense. This agreement protects assets accumulated before laws protected rights of same-sex couples. However, each couple must make their own decisions regarding these matters.