NJ LGBTQ+ Divorce Lawyers
LGBTQ+ Divorce Lawyers in Morristown
Helping you build a foundation for your future
Families who are divorcing share many concerns, from future child custody arrangements to who will get the family home. However, no two divorces are alike—and for LGBTQ+ couples, in particular, there are unique issues to consider during the divorce process.
At Jacobs Berger, our LGBTQ+ divorce lawyers have extensive experience helping families navigate the complexities of divorce. We understand that each family and each divorce are different—we’ll work with you to build a solid foundation for your future.
Our team is committed to prompt, proactive communication. We keep you updated and answer questions promptly.
If you’re considering or at the start of an LGBTQ+ divorce, contact us. Our skilled family law attorneys can guide you through the process.
LGBTQ Divorce vs. Civil Union Dissolution in New Jersey
Civil unions were initially created in New Jersey in 2007 to give LGBTQ+ couples a legal relationship status akin to marriage. In 2013, LGBTQ+ marriage became legal in New Jersey, and in 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court legalized LGBTQ marriage throughout the United States.
With each round of changes in New Jersey, preexisting civil unions weren’t automatically converted into marriages. If you have a civil union, and haven’t legally married since, and you want to dissolve your legal relationship, you must file for a dissolution, not a divorce.
In New Jersey, the dissolution of a civil union involves the same legal process as getting a divorce. Settlement agreements cover child support, custody, the division of debt and assets, and spousal support.
Couples who already have a civil union don’t need to first terminate their existing civil union before getting married. There are also many instances where LGBTQ+ couples cohabitated as if legally married for years prior to becoming married under state law.
The history of your relationship’s legal status can impact issues such as alimony and the division of assets. However, there’s no guarantee of this and each case is considered on a one-off basis.
At Jacobs Berger, our LGBTQ+ divorce lawyers recognize that obtaining a divorce or dissolving a civil union can be an emotional and sometimes complicated process. We work to make this process as efficient and amicable as possible in order to help our clients move forward.
Equitable Distribution of Assets
New Jersey is an equitable distribution state, which means that marital property, or the assets and debts acquired during the marriage, are distributed fairly in divorce. Equitable distribution applies to all divorcing couples, regardless of whether they are heterosexual or same-sex couples.
From a legal standpoint, dividing assets and liabilities fairly isn’t necessarily the same as equally. In deciding what “fair” looks like, the court considers many things, including:
- Independent assets
- Each party’s capacity to earn
- The length of the marriage
- What each person contributed to the marriage
Marriage length in particular is a complication for LGBTQ couples, given that same-sex marriage has only been legal at the federal level since 2015. Couples who have been together prior to 2015 may need to take extra steps to prove the length of their relationship and their contribution towards what would be considered marital property.
Marital property can include:
- Property and real estate
- Retirement accounts
- Family-owned and small businesses
- Debt, including mortgages
- And more
At Jacobs Berger, our family law attorneys seek productive resolutions to fairly divide assets (and liabilities) in ways that meet your needs.
Figuring out child custody arrangement is often one of the first concerns parents have when they divorce, particularly who has primary custody. Children grow quickly, and both parents want to be present for the big moments in their lives.
However, the matter of primary custody for LGBTQ+ families who have built their families through adoption or surrogacy isn’t always straightforward.
If your divorce is being litigated, and you aren’t the biological parent and haven’t formally adopted your child, the biological parent has presumptive parental rights. Depending on the judge, this situation can leave non-biological parents with few rights and little recourse.
Reaching an amicable agreement on child custody and parenting time that prioritizes the best interests of children and balances the needs of parents can be a helpful step in building a strong foundation for your co-parenting relationship.
Co-parents may wish to consider alternatives to a litigated divorce, such as mediation or arbitration, when children are involved to keep conflict resolution civil and productive.
The LGBTQ+ divorce lawyers at Jacobs Berger take pride in helping co-parents find creative, workable solutions for all involved. We seek to protect the stability of your relationship with your child and guide you through the divorce process with minimal stress.
Raising children can be expensive, and all parents want to provide their children with as many opportunities as possible while also pursuing stable financial futures for themselves. For LGBTQ+ families, this can take on different meanings when it comes to who has legal custody rights, who can be dependents, etc. Collaborating on a long-term plan for supporting your children alongside your co-parent can take a lot of the conflict out of planning for your child’s future.
New Jersey courts have a very detailed formula for calculating child support. Factors in determining child support may include:
- The financial standing of each co-parent
- Child custody arrangements
- The number and ages of children
- Special needs and other expenses, such as healthcare, daycare, school, and more
Figuring out child support may sound straightforward, given the standard calculator used in New Jersey, but there are complicating factors for LGBTQ+ families.
Because LGBTQ+ families may choose to adopt or use surrogacy to form their families or bring children from a previous relationship into their new marriage, establishing parental rights and custody arrangements is important for child support considerations.
At Jacobs Berger, our LGBTQ+ divorce lawyers have years of experience in navigating the wide range of child support issues parents experience in New Jersey. We strive to find creative solutions that support your family’s amicable and long-term financial health.
Alimony and Spousal Support
Alimony is money paid by one party to another after—and sometimes during—divorce or the dissolution of a civil union. Once awarded, alimony may stay the same or decrease over time. In some divorce cases, it’s also possible to obtain temporary alimony during the divorce process itself.
Similar to the equitable distribution of assets, LGBTQ+ couples who are divorcing may deal with complications regarding alimony.
New Jersey courts don’t have a set formula for calculating alimony—alimony (also known as spousal support) is determined by several factors, including the length of the marriage.
The longer a marriage, the more likely it is that a lower-earning spouse would receive spousal support. This can be a potential disadvantage for LGBTQ+ couples. Still, an attorney experienced in LGBTQ+ divorce cases can help you advocate for recognition of the years you were with your partner.
The family law attorneys at Jacobs Berger listen closely to your concerns, whether you’re worried about receiving the financial support you need after your divorce or your ability to meet financial needs after paying alimony.
Contact Our LGBTQ+ Divorce Lawyers in Morris County
We also take pride in finding creative and innovative solutions for everything from equitable distribution to parenting time arrangements. We seek to keep the process amicable and productive for you and your family.