Last week, the U.S. Supreme Court handed down a historic decision that makes same sex marriage — and divorce — legal in all 50 states. At the time of the ruling, only 14 states still had same-sex marriage bans on their books while the rest had approved the unions.
Same-sex marriage has been legal in Maryland since 2013, but the ruling is still very important for married gay and lesbian couples in the state. Not only does it grant them the dignity of knowing that their marriages are accepted everywhere throughout the country, it also means that their marriages will be recognized if they move to or travel to other states.
What the ruling means is that marriage and divorce will now be treated the same under the law in all 50 states, whether it involves a same-sex or an opposite-sex couple. There are still, however, certain unique family law issues that same-sex couples need to be aware of.
Adoption and child custody are extremely important areas of law to understand for couples who have children or wish to have children. For example, in many cases, same-sex couples choose to start families by adoption, and it is important that both parents go through the legal adoption process in order for parental rights to exist.
In other cases, one spouse may have a child from a previous relationship; however, if both spouses want to be recognized as legal parents, then the non-biological parent must go through the legal adoption process.
This issue and others can greatly complicate child custody matters involving LGBT families, which is why it is so important to work with a family law attorney who has experience handling these matters and understands the law as it evolves.