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What Same Sex Couples Should Know About Divorce in Pennsylvania

June 20, 2020

Pennsylvania law has recognized same-sex marriage since 2014, when the federal government made it illegal for states to ban marriages between two men or two women. The Pennsylvania Department of Health does not keep data on which marriages are same-sex and which are opposite sex, but the U.S. Census Bureau estimates that there are over 19,000 same-sex married couples in Pennsylvania. Because of marriage equality laws, the divorce process for two husbands or two wives is the same as for a husband and a wife; the court considers the same factors when deciding on equitable distribution of marital property, for example. Despite this, there are some unique issues that same-sex couples can face in divorce cases. Contact family law attorneys at Iwanyshyn & Associates in Greater Pittsburgh about dissolving your same-sex marriage.

Your Rights in a Divorce Case

When any couple gets a divorce, the court must ensure that they fulfill their support obligations to each other. Even if the judge does not order either spouse to pay alimony after the divorce is finalized, you might have the right to alimony pendente lite (APL) while your case is pending. For example, if the home mortgage is in your name but the judge has ordered you to sell the house, your spouse must pay you APL to cover the mortgage payments until the house sells. When determining how to distribute marital property in the divorce, the court takes into account each party’s income, earning potential, and financial need. If you were a stay-at-home parent during the marriage, the court considers this a valid contribution to the marriage and does not penalize you for it when awarding alimony.

If you and your spouse have minor children, you will need to draft a parenting plan, in which you agree about which parent is with the children on which days. Based on that, the judge will calculate how much child support the wealthier parent must pay the financially disadvantaged parent until the children are grown up.

Problems That LGBT Families Can Face During and After Divorce

These are some challenges same-sex couples might face during a divorce:

  • Parenting time – If only one spouse has a genetic relationship to the children, it is difficult for the other parent to get parenting time unless he or she has legally adopted the child. The best way to avoid this problem is by legally adopting the child as an infant.

  • Biased judges – If homophobia is stopping the judge from being fair to you and ex, or if the judge treats you disrespectfully because of your same-sex relationship, you should request a different judge.

Iwanyshyn & Associates Helps LGBT Parents Going Through Divorce

Divorced LGBT parents have the same right as anyone else to their fair share of parenting time, child support, and marital property after a divorce. Contact Iwanyshyn & Associates in Greater Pittsburgh & Western PA about your divorce case. 🡺 412-419-3448