Same-Sex Divorce

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Caring Representation from Bethesda Same-Sex Divorce Lawyers

Skilled representation for gay and lesbian clients in Montgomery County

In 2015, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that same-sex couples could get married in every state, and that every state had to recognize out-of-state marriages. The natural consequence of allowing same-sex marriage is that the spouses can now divorce each other. Divorced same-sex couples have the right to an equitable division of their marital assets, alimony, and custody of children provided parenthood is established.

At McCabe Russell, PA, our Bethesda same-sex divorce lawyers understand how upsetting divorce can be. Love and financial security are now replaced with hurt and financial concerns. We understand how divorce and related family matters are like those of straight couples and what the differences are. We guide same-sex spouses through each phase of the divorce, offering emotional and practical support at every step.

How to obtain an absolute divorce in Maryland

There are different ways for couples to obtain an absolute divorce. An absolute divorce means the spouses are legally divorced and that they can remarry. Couples who seek an absolute divorce must also settle their other family matters.

An uncontested, absolute divorce can be granted by mutual consent if the couple agrees, they have no minor children, and they have an agreement to resolve equitable division of their property and an alimony request. Couples with children can be divorced after they have separated for a year, and come to an agreement on child custody, support and the division of marital assets.

If spouses do not meet the mutual consent requirements, then they need to have grounds for the divorce. Approved grounds in for an absolute divorce are:

  • You cannot have sex with someone other than your spouse during the marriage.
  • Your spouse cannot leave you with the intent of never returning.
  • If a spouse hits you, makes you fear for your safety, or endangers your children, you may have grounds for an absolute divorce.
  • You can file for divorce if a doctor certifies your spouse’s insanity and they have resided in a mental health facility or hospital for three years prior to filing.
  • If your spouse was sentenced to more than three years for a crime and has served one year, you have grounds for divorce.

What issues are decided in a Maryland same-sex divorce?

Since the recognition of same-sex marriages is fairly recent, the laws and decisions on property division, child custody and support issues, and alimony are still evolving. Though Maryland recognized same-sex marriage long before the federal government did, LGBTQ spouses still face some challenges that traditional marriages do not. Our respected lawyers can guide LGBTQ clients through the following matters:

  • What is the equitable division of marital property? Divorcing couples are required to divide their properties fairly based on many factors, such as their economic circumstances, their health, their age, and the length of their marriage. Since many same-sex couples lived together before the laws allowed them to marry, fairness dictates that their time together before marriage should be considered. As many couples did not plan for marriage, it is likely they handled their financial affairs differently, which can pose additional problems.
  • How is child custody decided? Establishing parenthood is a prerequisite for awarding legal or physical custody. Validating same-sex parenthood can be much harder than it is for same-sex couples where DNA tests and birth certificates can easily verify parenthood. We explain to gay and lesbian parents:
    • The new laws stating how same-sex spouses can be listed on birth certificates
    • How same-sex couples can adopt children borne to other parents
    • How a same-sex spouse of a biological parent can adopt the child
    • How Maryland now allows “de facto parents”

So long as both spouses are recognized parents, both parents can seek joint or sole legal or physical custody of their children.

  • How is Maryland child support calculated? Same-sex parents need to pay financial support for their children. The amount of support is based primarily on the income of the parents and the number of days the child spends with each parent.
  • Will one spouse pay alimony? You may be entitled to rehabilitative (short-term) or indefinite (long-term) alimony if you are unable to earn a living or earn significantly less than your former partner. Family courts base alimony awards on economic, educational, health, and other factors. You may also be entitled to temporary alimony during the litigation process so that your wealthier spouse can’t pressure you into an unfair settlement.

Do contested divorces normally cost more than uncontested divorce?

Yes, and here is why. In an uncontested divorce, the parties agree to every aspect of the divorce from child custody and support to the division of marital assets and spousal support. When the parties agree on all of these issues, there is no conflict, which saves both parties legal fees, time and frustration. However, some couples will never come to any kind of agreement on their own. Each party in these couples will require the services of a skilled, Bethesda divorce attorney to broker an agreement.

How to determine if a limited divorce is right for you

In Bethesda, same-sex couples can obtain a limited divorce, which is essentially a legal separation, if they are separate, do not engage in intimacy, or if one spouse deserts or is cruel to the other. You can get a limited divorce for financial reasons, to test the strength or weakness of your marriage, or to start the clock running on an absolute divorce.

Couples with children who separate need to decide who will have temporary custody of the children and how support will be paid. Our team can litigate these issues if the parents cannot agree on their own.

Types of Cases We Handle

Our Bethesda attorneys handle a variety of cases, including:

DivorceAsset DivisionAlimonyChild Custody
Child SupportSame-Sex DivorceSame-Sex Child Custody/Support

Compassionate and practical guidance for LGBQT clients

The divorce attorneys at McCabe Russell, PA are prepared to help same-sex clients through all aspects of a divorce. We treat each client like a member of our own family, we fight aggressively for them, and are adept at finding solutions when others cannot. To discuss divorce and all family issues, please call us at 443.917.3347 fill out our contact form to make an appointment.


Bethesda Office

6701 Democracy One Plaza Loop,
Suite 300,
Bethesda, Maryland, 20817
Phone: (301) 888-6945

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Text Us443-917-3347