What Unique Issues Do LGBTQIA+ Couples Face During Divorce in New Mexico?
As we celebrate Pride Month, we pay homage to the leaders who fought hard over the years to obtain marital rights for members of the LGBTQIA+ community in New Mexico and elsewhere. It took activists decades to realize the goal of legalized marriage for LGBTQIA+ couples. Even though New Mexico has recognized these marriages for the past ten years, LGBTQIA+ couples still face difficult challenges when their marriages end in divorce.
If you are in the process of divorce or considering ending your marriage, make sure your attorney is prepared to address the potential problems and work to find the best solution to protect your interests.
Property Division Can Be Difficult
Some of the biggest problems in any divorce involve the classification and division of marital property and debts. The difficulties are often compounded by potential confusion over the beginning of a marriage when LGBTQIA+ couples divorce.
In New Mexico, the general rule is that property one spouse owned before the marriage remains that spouse’s separate property while property acquired during the marriage is divided under community property principles. That makes the start date of the marriage crucial in determining what property will be community property and what property will be separate property. Many couples have a clear legal start date to the marriage, so this issue does not pose a challenge. But that is not the case for many LGBTQIA+ couples.
Instead, many LGBTQIA+ couples lived together in committed relationships and joined their lives together in ceremonies that were not recognized as a legal marriage in New Mexico. Or they may have married in another state before moving to New Mexico, where their marriage was not considered valid. In these situations, it can be difficult to determine the true start date of the marriage.
You need an attorney that understands these issues and can advocate for you to ensure that your marital assets and debts are properly divided.
Custody and Child Support
Many LGBTQIA+ couples also face challenges involving children they are raising together. In many cases, a child may be related biologically to one parent but not the other. This is often the case when couples start a family using assisted reproductve technology.
When these parents’ divorce, the one without the biological relationship can be shut out when it comes to parental rights and the ability to seek custody or visitation. That partner may also not have any legal obligations to provide child support. Accordingly, parents must take steps before the divorce becomes final to legally establish the parental relationship.
Courts do not award spousal support or alimony automatically in divorce cases, but they are generally more likely to award alimony when a couple has been married for a lengthy time. That means that the decision about whether to order alimony, and the amount and duration of alimony payments may rest heavily on the determination of the marriage date.
This makes it even more critical for your divorce attorney to develop and present the best arguments in favor of your interests when it comes to the start date of your marriage.
Batley Family Law Protects the Interests of LGBTQIA+ Couples in Divorce
Divorce involves painful challenges in even the most basic situations. When a case involves complex legal issues and complicated financial matters, the process can easily become overwhelming.
Let the experienced team at Batley Family Law protect your interests during this difficult chapter of your life. We work hard every step of the way to put you in the best position to move forward after your divorce. Contact us today for a confidential consultation to learn more about the ways we can assist.
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