Same Sex / LGBTQ Divorce

The dissolution of marriage in any capacity can be stressful, but same sex couples face additional challenges. The state of Washington has allowed LGBTQ domestic partnerships since 2007 and recognized same-sex marriage since 2012. Couples of the same sex can be married or file for a divorce at any time.

LGBTQ couples have the ability to dissolve their marriage if they seek fit. With any divorce, however, there could be issues. Couples seeking to end a marriage may have issues with dividing property, determining alimony, and child support. If you wish to seek a divorce from your partner, then call the attorneys at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson.

Attorney for LGBTQ Divorces in Seattle, Washington

Seeking to end a marriage is upsetting for any kind of family. The attorneys at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson believe that every family is special and unique and deserves outstanding legal representation regardless of sexual orientation or gender identity.

We understand that nothing is more important to you than your family, no matter how you define it. That’s why we want to provide you with the best legal service available. Our attorneys will collect evidence, negotiate with the other attorney, and do whatever is needed to make the divorce process simple.

We understand that laws concerning same sex marriage are constantly evolving. If you are seeking to end a same sex marriage, it’s crucial that you contact a divorce attorney experienced in LGBTQ divorces.

Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson accepts clients throughout the greater Seattle area including surrounding communities such as Redmond, Bellevue, Burien, and Issaquah, and the greater King County area and surrounding communities including Seattle and Kent in King County and Everett in Snohomish County.

Contact the attorneys at Law Offices of Shana E. Thompson now to begin your plan for future divorce proceedings.

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Types of Divorce in Washington State

Every couple is different no matter what their sexual orientation is. Some couples are able to divorce without a grueling battle between the two. A couple wishing to seek a painless and easy end to their marriage may file for an uncontested divorce. However, in other situations, a divorce may be incredibly stressful because one spouse is unhappy with the agreement. Couples having issues with agreeing will most likely file for a contested divorce.

A divorce by agreement, or uncontested divorce, is when a couple agrees on all aspects of the divorce petition. The couple must agree on if maintenance payments are necessary such as alimony payments and child support. Uncontested couples must also show that they divided their property and income in an equal and fair manner. This includes debt, personal property, real estate, and potential investments. Uncontested divorces must also have a plan for child custody if necessary.

If the couple agrees on all major issues, then they can file a petition for an uncontested divorce. The benefit of an uncontested divorce is the marriage will dissolve quickly without much oversight or interference from a family court judge.

A contested divorce is when a couple is unable to resolve or agree on a major issue. One spouse could refuse to pay maintenance payments, want sole custody of a child, or wish to own a shared asset like a home. During a contested divorce, both parties will investigate the couple’s debts, finances, marriage life and parenting. Once the discovery process is over the couple can present settlement agreements to one another.

In many cases, the settlements in a contested divorce aren’t agreed upon. If this happens, then both sides will attend hearings in front of a family court judge. The court will make a final decision on how the property is divided, if maintenance payments are necessary, and will draw up a parenting plan if needed.

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Property Division in a Same Sex Divorce

One of the most important aspects to divorce is property division. Any property that is considered to be community property can be divided between both parties. Washington law defines community property as any debt, property or income that was accumulated during the course of the marriage.

Any property that is acquired before the marriage, given as a gift, or is a part of a personal injury settlement is considered separate property.

Washington distributes assets in a manner is considered “just and equitable.” It’s important that you understand that equitable doesn’t mean equal. The court may give your ex-partner a larger half of your assets because of their financial situation. This can especially be devastating if you have any expensive assets that you acquired over the marriage.

Listed below are the factors Washington court considers when dividing property in a divorce.

  • The nature and value of the community property;
  • The nature and the value of your separate property;
  • The duration of the marriage;
  • The financial ability of both spouses; and
  • If one spouse desires to live in the family home and spends the majority of the time with shared children.

It’s important to note that fault is rarely a factor when dividing property. Bad behavior such as infidelity doesn’t go into consideration when distributing assets. However, if your spouse’s behavior was intentional and resulted in waste or destruction of property, it could be a factor. For instance, if your spouse was a heavy gambler and intentionally gambled the both of you into debt, this could be considered when dividing property.

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Alimony in an LGBTQ Divorce

In some cases, a spouse may request for maintenance payments to preserve their lifestyle. This is referred to as alimony and can be issued for various reasons. Normally, a person is given alimony because they depended on their spouse for certain finances. The duration of the payments can range from a few months to indefinitely.

Washington courts must consider all relevant factors when deliberating if alimony is acceptable. These include, but are not limited to:

  • The financial status of both spouses;
  • How the property was divided among the two spouses;
  • The amount of time, training or education needed for one spouse to gain employment that is appropriate for his or her lifestyle;
  • The standard of living for both spouses during the marriage;
  • The duration of the marriage itself;
  • The financial obligations, age, physical ability and emotional conditions of the spouse asking for alimony; and
  • If the spouse who may pay alimony can handle both maintenance payments and their lifestyle.
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Child Support in a Same Sex Divorce

Another kind of maintenance payment is child support. Parents who are financially unable to care for their child on their own may seek child support. Same sex couples can have just as many issues determining child support as couples of the opposite sex. Washington determines child support by using the income shares model.

The income shares model is based on the concept that any shared children should receive the same proportion of parental income they would have received if the parents were together. The incomes share model calculates both the parent’s income and how much support they are required to pay. Income is a large factor, but other factors go into deliberation as well such as medical expenses.

Next, a judge will determine what percentage of child support comes out of each parent’s income. For example, if your income accounts for 30 percent of the total combined parental income, then you will pay 30 percent of child support. Revised Code of Washington (RCW) § 26.19.020 uses a child support economic table to calculate the amount of support a child should receive.

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Additional Resources

Child Support – Visit the official website for the Washington State Department of Social and Health Services to find more information surrounding child support. Access the site to learn more about how to get child support, how the division for child support collects money and how to collect support as a grandparent.

Washington Divorce Laws – Visit the official website for Washington State Legislature, a collection of Washington statutes. Access the site to learn more about divorce, domestic partnerships dissolving and how to modify maintenance payments.

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