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Understanding Same-Sex Divorce in North Carolina

Little girl holding both of her mom's hands

In 2015, the United States Supreme Court ruled that same-sex marriage was legal throughout the country. Now six years later, same-sex couples have every legal right to marriage as heterosexual couples — that also includes the right to divorce.

Same-Sex Divorce in North Carolina

Here in North Carolina, the “rules” regarding divorce are the same for straight and same-sex couples:

  • At least one person in the relationship must have lived in North Carolina for a minimum of six months, regardless of where the marriage license was issued (such as another state).
  • The couple must be separated (living apart) for at least one year before they can file for divorce. Having a formal separation agreement drawn up is important, since it can save you time and expense while supporting you and your children’s rights throughout the separation process. Taking the time to hammer out a solid separation agreement now is worth the effort.
  • At the time of the separation, one or both parties must have intended to make a permanent break in the marriage.
  • While separated, neither party tried to resume your marital relationship.

Alimony Payments

Alimony payments are less common than many people realize, however same-sex couples are just as entitled to fight for alimony payments. When determining if one spouse should be entitled to future payments (whether rehabilitative, lump sum, permanent, or temporary) courts will consider a few things, including how long you were married, what age you got married at, both partners’ financial situation, and much more.

Unlike for heterosexual couples, determining when a same-sex marriage began can be more difficult. Because same-sex marriage wasn’t legal in North Carolina until 2014, this complicates things for couples who got married in another state (that legalized same-sex marriage) before 2014. An experienced divorce lawyer can explain your options if you were married before 2014.

Child Support

Regardless of gender or sex, both parents of a child are required to provide financial support after getting a divorce. Child support is predominantly determined by each partners’ income and the details of your custody order.

Determining child support for same-sex couples can be difficult. Unless both partners have legally adopted the child, only one parent may be the biological or legal parent of a child under North Carolina law.

Property Division

If you and your former spouse are on good terms, you may be able to come to an agreement regarding property division through a process like mediation. This gives you both a chance to have more control over who gets what.

However, if you and your ex can not agree on most or any aspects of property division, your case will be handled by the court — they will divide your assets fairly (not necessarily 50/50), which is known as equitable distribution.

At Blood Law, PLLC, we believe in helping our clients achieve their goals – no matter how complex their divorce or other family law issue. Our lawyers provide tailored legal services with a unique, team-based approach to do our best to achieve these results.

To learn more about our legal services, contact our lawyers online or give us a call at (704) 286-0570.