Recently, the lawmakers of the state of North Carolina unsuccessfully tabled a bill that forbids same-sex marriages. Currently, the 2015 United States Supreme Court ruling that legalizes same-sex marriage still stands, meaning that gay couples can enjoy similar benefits and rights as heterosexual couples in marriage. Fortunately, it also means that gay couples are subject to the same laws and obligations associated with the divorce of heterosexual couples.
At Waple & Houk, PLLC PLLC, we offer family law services to members of the lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender (LGBT) community. If you’re looking for a Charlotte LGBT family law attorney, we can help! We have been offering the LGBT community specialized, one-to-one support for many years. We are proud to serve lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people in Charlotte and throughout North Carolina.
What Does an LGBT Family Lawyer Do?
People in same-sex marriages face similar problems as those in heterosexual marriages: divorce, child support, or custody issues, etc. A Charlotte LGBT family law attorney deals with family-related disputes related to lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender couples such as:
- Civil Unions, Marriages, and Domestic Partnerships
- Child Custody
- Child Support
- Estate Planning
- Living Wills
- Powers of Attorney
- Prenuptial Agreements
What Qualifies as a Family Law Case?
Civil cases that exclusively deal with family matters and disputes between spouses, parents, children, and sometimes grandchildren qualify as family law cases. They include:
Contested and Uncontested Divorce
These cases are family law cases because they involve a dispute between two spouses. Additionally, the disputing spouses are required to request a court order to end the marriage through a contested or uncontested divorce from a family court. Couples who want to stay legally married can request separation from a family court.
Parental Rights, Child Custody, and Child Support
Since parents and children are involved, these cases automatically qualify as family law cases. A family court determines who has custodial rights for the child also outlines parental and visitation rights. Additionally, the court decides who will pay child support and the amount they should pay.
Spousal Support and Alimony Agreements
Family law cases of this nature arise when one spouse demands spousal support and alimony. The court may order one spouse to provide spousal support or pay alimony to the other spouse.
Legal Name Changes in North Carolina
Since this type of case involves altering a person’s legal names on their birth certificate, it qualifies to be a family law case.
When a spouse or a parent has a history of harming their better half or child, a family court may issue them with a restraining order to keep them away from their victim.
Department of Social Services Cases
Some children are subject to abuse and neglect from their biological parents, adopted parents, or legal guardians. Since it involves children, it is a family case law. Courts may order the Department of Social Services to remove children from the custody of abusive or neglective parents.
How Can a Lawyer Protect the Rights of Gay and Lesbian Parents?
There are numerous ways a Charlotte LGBT family law attorney can help protect the rights of same-sex parents and couples. At Waple & Houk, PLLC, we defend the rights of gay and lesbian couples by representing them in the following areas:
Prenuptial agreements, popularly known as prenups, are written agreements between spouses that dictate how a couple will divide debts, money, investment portfolios, and other financial assets should the couple decide to end the marriage. Typically, couples sign prenuptial agreements before tying the knot. The prenuptial agreement lists each person’s property and debt and outlines how they will divide the property (including all debts) after marriage.
Prenups are becoming more and more popular, and same-sex couples are also using these agreements to protect their individual property before committing to marriage. An LGBT family lawyer can help gay and lesbian couples draft prenuptial agreements and exercise the rights contained in them.
Same-sex couples, like their heterosexual counterparts, have the right to adopt a child. If you are a proud LGBT member, we can make the adoption process easier whether you decide to adopt through a domestic or international adoption agency.
Whether a divorce involves a same-sex or a heterosexual couple, emotions are bound to be in abundance. Besides being a complicated process, divorces involve some contentious issues, including maintenance, parenting time, child allocation, child support, and property division. Our LGBT family lawyers can help make your divorce as smooth as possible.
What Happens if My North Carolina LGBT Divorce Has Special Circumstances?
At Waple & Houk, PLLC, our Charlotte LGBT divorce attorneys know that each case we handle is unique. While some of our clients may contest their divorce details when it comes to child custody or asset division, others have significant challenges that require a deep dive into their marital circumstances. These cases include high-conflict divorces, where the spouses do not agree on anything, and are preparing for litigation only. Other special divorce circumstances may include high-asset divorces, or those where the spouses share businesses or substantial property that requires forensic accountants and other financial specialists to value the marital estate properly before it can be divided.
No matter your LGBT family law circumstances, our skilled divorce attorneys will help you navigate the legal process with precision, so you can pursue the best outcome for your unique needs.
Allocation of Parental Responsibilities
Divorced same-sex parents have the right to make important decisions for a child, including their education, religion, extracurricular activities, and healthcare. However, parents in a contested or uncontested divorce will need to establish who can rightfully make these decisions on behalf of the child.
Parental responsibilities can either be sole allocation (allocation to one spouse) or joint allocation (allocation to both spouses).
When all parental responsibilities are given to one parent, they will hold the right to make vital decisions for the child. On the other hand, both parents will make a joint decision after consulting each other when they are allocated joint parental responsibilities.
At Waple & Houk, PLLC Family law, we are well versed in LGBT parental issues. Whether you have sole or joint parental responsibilities, we can help protect your right to make those vital decisions.
What Are My LGBT Rights in North Carolina?
We are committed to defending the rights of the LGBT community in North Carolina. These rights include:
Sexual Activity for Same-Sex Individuals in North Carolina
Consensual sexual activity between persons of the same sex is legal.
North Carolina recognizes same-sex marriages since Oct 10, 2014.
Adopting Minor Children
North Carolina permits same-sex couples to adopt a child.
Right to Change Legal Gender
North Carolina acknowledges and sex reassignment is permissible by allowing a change of legal gender on an individual’s birth certificate.
Bullying LGBT students within schools is prohibited
Lesbians, gays, and bisexuals in North Carolina are allowed to serve openly in the military
Why Should I Hire a Charlotte LGBT Family Law Attorney?
LGBT family law is broad and involves quite several nuances. You will be doing yourself a big favor if you retain an LGBT family law attorney. A qualified LGBT lawyer from Waple & Houk, PLLC Charlotte has the knowledge and experience to deal with your family case. This is why you should consider hiring a Charlotte LGBT family lawyer:
Knowledge and Experience
Lawyers have years of practice. Thus, they are vastly experienced and knowledgeable in family law matters. As a result, you can expect to get dependable legal counsel and specific information on the legal processes and obligations.
Many LGBT couples are co-owners of assets like businesses, houses, bank accounts, etc. If the marriage fails, the personal and financial stakes are high. With a qualified and skilled LGBT family attorney in your corner, dividing these assets fairly will not be challenging. An attorney will protect your financial interests.
Nobody understands the plight of lesbians, gays, bisexuals, and transgender people like LGBT family attorneys. Because we know the challenges that the LGBT community faces, we treat our clients with kindness and compassionate support.
Protection From Creditors
In a divorce, it’s not just the assets that are divided. You and your spouse will split the debts accrued in the course of the marriage. An LGBT family lawyer will oversee the division of debts to ensure each party is responsible for their own accumulated debt.
Answering Your Custody and Visitation Questions
LGBT family lawyers are well versed in matter family law. If you have any questions concerning visitation and custody rights, our team at Walpe & Houk can help. We understand that having a relationship with your children is essential. As an LGBT parent involved in a custody battle, we understand that you may have many questions. We have the answers to all your questions, including:
- How to negotiate a parenting plan
- How to pursue custody or visitation if you aren’t the biological parent
- How to protect a child from domestic violence and other forms of abuse
What is the Difference Between Consent Orders, Parenting Agreements, and Child Custody Agreements in North Carolina?
Consent orders, parenting agreements, and child custody agreements in North Carolina contain much of the same information but are used differently.
North Carolina consent orders are the most common type of plan where parents submit a consent order to the court without the help of a mediator, which becomes a court order once signed by a judge. A consent order may include information on child support payments.
North Carolina parenting agreements detail the terms of custody when parents settle through private or court-mandated mediation. They, too, become court orders once a judge signs. Unlike consent orders, parenting agreements cannot cover child support. Child support details must be settled separately.
North Carolina custody agreements are contracts between parents but are not filed with the family courts. This makes the agreement difficult to enforce. Custody agreements are often part of separation agreements. Unlike parenting agreements, custody agreements can address child support.
Schedule a Consultation Today Regarding Any of Your LGBT Family Law Concerns
LGBT family law is nuanced with complicated processes and contentious issues that require specialized knowledge around marriage and immigration, custody and adoption processes, fiancée or marriage-based visas, name changes, gender changes, prenups, and divorce specific to LGBT individuals.
Waple & Houk, PLLC has extensive experience in LGBT family law services. Our legal team in Charlotte is passionate about defending the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender people. That’s because our attorneys are dedicated to a great good – we believe that a person’s sexual orientation should not bar them from getting professional family law services.
At Waple & Houk, PLLC, we are all for standing for what you believe in. We don’t take the responsibility of defending your rights and protecting your future lightly. So, to find out more about our LGBT services and why you can trust us to fight for you, give us a call today at (704) 954-8697 or use our online contact form.
Frequently Asked Questions for Our LGBT Family Law Attorney in Charlotte, North Carolina
How is a North Carolina LGBT Family Law Attorney Different than Another Family Law Attorney?
At Waple & Houk, PLLC, our Charlotte LGBT family law attorney sees all couples, spouses, and parents the same way: Equal. We provide exceptional legal representation to all family law clients, regardless of sexual orientation. The difference is, North Carolina’s family laws and statutes are more complex for same-sex couples who were never married and share children, which requires significant legal knowledge in these complicated areas of law. We have the experience, skill, and resources same-sex couples need to pursue a successful family law outcome, whether they were married or not. You deserve top-notch legal representation, no matter who you are. That is what we provide.
Are Civil Unions or Domestic Partnerships Legally Equivalent to Marriage For Same-Sex Couples in North Carolina?
Civil unions and domestic partnerships are not legally equivalent to marriage in North Carolina. Although they formally recognize the committed partnership for same-sex couples, they usually do not confer the same privileges and benefits as marriage. Couples who are committed to each other, but are not interested in formally getting married, may protect their rights using a cohabitation agreement.
Who Gets Custody of Our Children if My Partner and I Never Married?
The biological parent in an unmarried same-sex couple relationship has presumptive custody rights. The other partner has no legal rights to raise or make important decisions if he or she has not adopted the child. If the second parent has adopted a child or obtained a parentage judgment is on equal footing with a biological parent and can be given custody rights and support rights, depending on the best interests of the child and other factors. If you were never married to your partner, and are seeking shared custody of your children, contact our skilled LGBT family law attorney today for help understanding your legal rights and options to maintain your important role in their lives.
Do I Have to Pay Child Support if My Partner and I Adopted a Child Together but are Now Separated?
In North Carolina, child custody, parenting time, and child support requirements are gender neutral. If you and your partner adopted a child, you are both the child’s legal guardians and are responsible for the financial care of that child, just as if you were biological parents. That means your separation will be reviewed just as married parents would. Depending on your custody agreement, one or both parents may be responsible for paying child support based on the North Carolina Child Support Guidelines.