Same-sex marriage is recognized in Nevada as holding the same status as traditional marriage. Whether you are a same-sex spouse or plan to become one, you should understand your rights and responsibilities as you enter matrimony. And if you need to end your marriage, you should retain an attorney who will handle your divorce effectively with a view to protecting your interests. At Miley Law Firm, P.C., I understand the issues involved in same-sex divorce and will be honored to work with you.
Same-sex marriages have been legal in Nevada since 2014, when a federal court struck down a state prohibition against them. Previously, same-sex couples could only enter into domestic partnerships, which provided most of the same rights under state law as marriages but required the domestic partners to share a residence. Since 2014, married couples of the same gender have the same rights as couples of the opposite sex, with no cohabitation requirement. However, unlike domestic partnerships, which may be dissolved by a simple declaration of termination, same-sex marriages can be ended only by a formal divorce.
As with any married couple, hopes for a life-time commitment in same-sex marriage are not guaranteed to work out. When the marriage breaks down, the rules for divorce are the same for same-sex as for heterosexual couples.
Nevada recognizes three grounds for divorce:
The divorcing couple must reside in Nevada for at least six weeks before filing. Whether the divorce is contested or uncontested, the court proceeding will have to resolve such issues as property division, alimony and child support. Regardless of the circumstances, I handle divorces for same-sex clients just as I do with divorces in traditional marriages, but with sensitivity to unique issues that may arise.
The issue that is most likely to cause special problems for a divorcing same-sex couple is child custody, since only one spouse is the biological parent. There are two possible scenarios.
The normal rules of child custody will apply, based on the best interests of the child, when both same-sex spouses are considered legal parents of a child. This is the case if the child is:
But a same-sex spouse or partner who is not the legal parent of a child may get custody only in one of these situations:
If a child is born through an egg or sperm donor, that person is one of the child’s biological parents. A donor who asserts parental rights like custody or visitation can further complicate a divorce. The court might deny the claim of a donor who played no part in the child’s life, but it’s wise for same-sex couples to avoid such a dispute by seeking the donor’s waiver of parental rights and by having the non-biological partner adopt the child. I can advise same-sex spouses on any child custody issues that may arise. When there are contests, I assert the strongest case I can for my client’s preferred results.
The Miley Law Firm, P.C. advises and represents partners in Nevada same-sex marriages and domestic partnerships with regard to divorce and other family law issues. Please call 702-942-0600 or contact me online to make an appointment for a meeting at my Las Vegas office.