Divorce for LGBTQIA+ Couples: Avoiding Potential Pitfalls


Same-sex marriage has been legal in Virginia since October 6, 2014, when the Supreme Court determined that the final ruling of the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals in Bostic v. Shaefer would stand. With the right to marry also comes the right to divorce. However, the Commonwealth of Virginia only recognizes legal LGBTQIA+ marriages performed as of October 6, 2014, complicating several divorce issues.

Our attorneys with The DiPietro Law Group in Northern Virginia describe some potential difficulties in divorce for LGBTQIA+ couples in the FAQ below, including the divorce process, property division, and disputes over child custody, child support, and spousal support. For help with your same-sex divorce in Virginia, call us at (888) 530-4374 to speak with a family law attorney with the DiPietro Law Group.

How Does Divorce for LGBTQIA+ Couples Work in Virginia?

Heterosexual couples have always been able to marry and have the Commonwealth recognize their marriage. However, the Commonwealth of Virginia only recognizes same-sex marriage in cases where same-sex couples legally married after the Bostic decision in 201. This could affect the legal status of your marriage if you married before same-sex marriage became legal in the Commonwealth.

Factors the courts might consider to determine the legally recognized length of your marriage include:

  • Date of marriage in relationship to October 6, 2014, when Virginia began to legally recognize same-sex marriage
  • The date that the state where the couple originally married legally recognized same-sex marriage
  • The date when the couple began cohabiting
  • The date the couple legally married after October 6, 2014, even if the couple behaved as a married couple and cohabited earlier

Will Property Division Be Different for Same-Sex Couples?

Virginia divides marital property by “equitable distribution,” or what it considers fair for both parties. However, what constitutes marital property depends on the date the court recognizes as the date you and your spouse married.

For example, if you and your spouse lived as a married couple since 2010 and legally married the day Virginia recognized same-sex marriage, the courts could determine that only property acquired since October 6, 2014, qualifies as marital property. Additionally, the court uses the length of the marriage to determine what is equitable.

How Does Child Custody, Child Support, and Alimony Work in LGBTQIA+ Divorce?

If you and your spouse cannot agree on child custody, child support, and spousal support (alimony) through a divorce agreement or mediation, the court will determine what is in the child’s best interest for custody, parenting time, and child support as well as whether either spouse should receive spousal support.

Contact Us To Speak With a Northern Virginia Family Law Attorney at The DiPietro Law Group

Divorce for LGBTQIA+ couples is still a new area of law with several potential complications based on when the court determines you and your spouse legally married. Having an experienced family law attorney to help you navigate your same-sex divorce is essential to fighting for your fair share of marital property and parenting rights.

Call us at The DiPietro Law Group at (888) 530-4374 or contact us online to schedule a consultation in Northern Virginia.

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