West Chester, PA 19380
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Several states now recognize same-sex marriage as legal, but for years Pennsylvania couples had trouble tying the knot and returning to their home state. Pennsylvania did not recognize same-sex marriages as legal; therefore, getting a divorce in the state was not possible. Same-sex couples who wanted to divorce often had to separate, but remain legally married, or move to another state.
However, Pennsylvania now recognizes same-sex marriage as legal, including marriages between couples validly performed in other states that permit same sex-marriage. This means same-sex couples in Pennsylvania have the same rights as opposite-sex couples and now can file for divorce.
Filing for divorce is never an easy process, especially when the laws can be complex. LGBT divorce still is something new for the state of Pennsylvania, so working with an attorney can help ensure the process is smoother. Contact a West Chester LGBT divorce attorney at Ciccarelli Law Offices.
The family law attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices can carefully examine the facts of your case and advise you throughout the process. In addition to years of experience in divorce cases, the attorneys remain active in the legal community to ensure they are up-to-date on current Pennsylvania laws and procedures.
Call (877) 529-2422 to schedule a free consultation and to discuss the details of your case. Ciccarelli Law Offices represents spouses throughout Chester County, Delaware County, Montgomery County, Lancaster County, Philadelphia, and Southeastern Pennsylvania.
Same-sex marriage became legal in Pennsylvania in May 2014 when a U.S. federal district court judge ruled the 1996 statutory ban on recognizing same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. The state had prohibited same-sex marriage in the state and refused to recognize same-sex marriages performed in other states.
The state has never recognized civil unions or domestic partnerships. However, Governor Tom Corbett announced the day after the ruling he would not appeal Judge John E. Jones' decision, effectively making Pennsylvania the 19th state to recognize same-sex marriage. It was the last state in the Northeast region to recognize same-sex marriage.
The Pennsylvania case that essentially made same-sex marriage into law does not reference civil unions or domestic partnerships. Therefore, it is unclear if the state will recognize those statuses. To have the rights of married couples, same-sex partners likely would have to marry.
The federal government does not recognize civil unions or domestic partnerships as the equivalent of marriage for federal tax purposes. Couples still would need to get married in order to file your taxes as "married." In addition, a couple would have to be legally married to file for divorce.
A marriage between same-sex partners is no different from a traditional marriage in Pennsylvania. Divorcing same-sex couples now have access to the Pennsylvania courts just as opposite-sex couples, with the same rights and obligations under the Pennsylvania law, including filing for divorce.
Same-sex couples must file for a divorce to terminate the marriage and all property rights, including equitable distribution of marital property and alimony. Spouses also may be forced to support the other spouse during a period of separation and may be responsible for debts incurred by the spouse during the marriage.
The process of filing for a divorce is the same. To divorce in Pennsylvania, one of the spouses must have lived in the state for at least six months prior to the date of the filing. You also must file in the appropriate county.
Same-sex couples have the opportunity to file for different kinds of divorces, including:
At-fault divorce — To obtain an at-fault divorce, or a contested divorce, the filing spouse must make one of several allegations that his or her spouse committed a certain bad act or mistreated him or her in some way. For example, if a spouse committed adultery or domestic violence, the other could file for an at-fault divorce.
No-fault divorce — A no-fault divorce, often called an uncontested or simple divorce, typically is the easiest and least expensive way to end a marriage. If both parties in the marriage want a divorce, they can file and then both file an affidavit saying they give mutual consent for the termination. After 90 days from the date of filing, the court may then grant the decree. No hearing is required.
Collaborative divorce — This process is known as a friendly divorce. The two parties agree to the marriage termination, and then the spouses and their attorneys negotiate out a settlement with how they will divide their assets. There is no trial or hearing to attend.
If you have decided to end your marriage, or if you are responding to actions initiated by your spouse, you will need someone with experience and understanding to guide you through this difficult situation. The attorneys at Ciccarelli Law Offices are dedicated to helping you through this transition. Call (877) 529-2422 to schedule a free consultation.