Attorney Susan Gibson is ready to provide guidance for your situation. From filing the correct paperwork to dealing with an obstinate partner, she's the Bucks County lawyer to help you. She's spent nearly 15 years exclusively practicing family law.
Why You Need Susan Gibson As Your LGBTQ+ Divorce Lawyer
Since the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage across the country, LBGTQ+ couples in Pennsylvania also have the same right to file for divorce. Specifically in Pennsylvania, even if you entered into a Civil Union, Domestic Partnership, or other equivalent marital-like relationship in another jurisdiction, Pennsylvania recognizes those unions as marriages under the Divorce Code, provided you or your spouse has lived in the Commonwealth for at least 6 months before filing a Divorce Complaint. See Neyman v. Buckley. With this right comes the need for legal guidance to ensure you file correctly under Pennsylvania law. Susan can help in several ways.
She'll Help You File Your Paperwork
Attempting to file for divorce on your own only complicates an already challenging process. With her experience handling many Pennsylvania divorces, attorney Gibson will handle all the paperwork to ensure you file it correctly.
Your divorce lawyer prevents hiccups down the road and helps you get back to your life.
She'll Explain How the Law Impacts Your Case
Pennsylvania has specific laws and requirements for getting divorced. We'll explain how assets are distributed and several other divorce-related matters.
Attorney Gibson lets you know how the law applies to your situation.
She'll Protect Your Rights
Pennsylvania doesn't split assets 50/50. The state splits assets equitably. This means you might have a right to property acquired during the marriage. Furthermore, you have a right to see your kids.
Gibson Family Law, PLLC is passionate about helping people understand their rights in divorce.
What is an LGBTQ+ Divorce?
The process for an LGBTQ+ divorce is the same as any other divorce. Once you decide to divorce, you will follow the same steps: filing paperwork, entering negotiations, and appearing in court as needed to end your same-sex marriage.
Grounds for Divorce
In Pennsylvania, you'll need to establish a legal reason you're seeking a divorce, also known as the grounds for divorce. These can vary from couple to couple.
A divorce could be granted for reasons like:
- fault, which can include instances of fault like adultery or abandonment
- institutionalization, where a spouse is confined in a mental institution for 18 months before the divorce was filed
- mutual consent, where both parties agree they cannot reconcile differences
- irretrievable breakdown, where a filed complaint states the marriage has broken down and the parties have not lived together for at least one year.
How Can I File for an LGBTQ+ Divorce?
To file for a divorce as an LGBTQ+ couple:
- One or both of you must have lived in Pennsylvania for at least the past six months.
- You must provide legal grounds for the divorce, which can be either At-Fault or No-Fault.
- You file a complaint with the court to start the process of a divorce.
Types of Divorce
Divorces can be settled out of court. Reaching a resolution out of court will likely be less expensive, but you should still consult an attorney to help you reach an agreement.
If your spouse suddenly changes their mind about the conditions of your divorce, you want an LGBTQ+ family law attorney to have your back and hold your spouse to their promises.
Pennsylvania allows couples to pursue both fault and no-fault divorces.
We live in a no-fault state, meaning you don't have to provide proof of any wrongdoing to get divorced. An agreement that you and your spouse no longer want to remain married is sufficient.
To obtain a no-fault same-sex divorce, both partners must consent that your marriage is irreparable, or you must have lived separately and apart for at least one year.
If your spouse's actions, like abandonment, violence, or misconduct, are the reason for the end of your marriage, you can file for an at-fault divorce; however, the process can be lengthier than a no-fault divorce. Therefore, the vast majority of cases proceed under the no-fault provision of the Divorce Code even though fault provisions still exisit. Gibson Family Law, PLLC is here to advise what kind of divorce is appropriate for your marriage and family. We're ready to help you prepare for your situation.
What is Decided in an LGBTQ+ Divorce?
An LGBTQ+ divorce decree will address the status of your marriage and how property is divided. In addition, the court may enter orders regarding child custody, child support, and spousal support or alimony.
Whether you are married or not, LGBTQ+ couples may need to address disputes regarding custody when they decide to live in separate homes. In some situations, and somewhat unique to LGBTQ+ families, a non-biological parent may need to take an additional step to be recognized as the children's legal parent before (or as part of) filing for custody. Ultimately, decisions about custody are made in the children's best interest. There are two types of custody in our state: physical and legal.
Physical custody involves where your child lives, and which parent spends more time with the child or children. Legal custody refers to the right to make fundamental decisions about a child's life, including health care, schooling, religious practices, and more.
One spouse may have primary custody, or both parents may share it.
Child support may be required to ensure your child or children receive the financial support they need when you and your coparent reside in separate homes.
Child support is dependent on both parents' income and the custody arrangement established between the parties. The parent with physical custody of the child typically receives child support from a non-custodial parent.
Pennsylvania determines child support amounts using a model that considers both parents' income and the number of children. The basic obligation amount is then calculated proportionally to the net monthly income.
Spousal maintenance is a way for you to maintain your own standard of living during and after a divorce. In Bucks County and greater Pennsylvania, you may file for Alimony, Alimony Pendente Lite (APL), or Spousal Support.
Alimony is the financial support you receive after a finalized divorce. APL is financial support you may receive after divorce proceedings begin but before finalization. You may apply for spousal support before a pending divorce, like during a separation.
All types of spousal maintenance are dependent on earning capacity and income. Additionally, the Pennsylvania court considers 17 specific factors to determine alimony. The process can be overwhelming, which is why Susan's expertise can help you.
In an LGBTQ+ marriage, your property will be considered either marital or separate property. Marital property includes all the purchases, assets, and debts acquired during a marriage, except those acquired by gift or inheritances. The increase in value of any separate asset is also deemed marital property in Pennsylvania.
Separate property is that which you brought to the relationship before marriage or after separation. All marital property in Pennsylvania is subject to equitable distribution.
To distinguish what's rightfully yours depends on the specific circumstances of your divorce.
Turn to a LGBTQ+ Divorce & Family Lawyer in Bucks County, PA
Getting a divorce as an LGBTQ+ couple can be a long, complicated, and contentious process. Even if you think you can reach an agreement with your soon-to-be ex outside of court, relying on a Bucks County family law attorney could save you major trouble.
If you shared a house with your spouse, if there were any children, or if you have questions about dividing property, attorney Susan Gibson is ready to answer your questions. We have the tools to help you reach fair, equitable decisions throughout your same-sex divorce proceedings.
Our offices are located in the heart of Doylestown Borough right off Main Street.