Nontraditional Families/Domestic Partnerships

Some couples choose to enter into a domestic partnership rather than a marriage.

If you are in a domestic partnership, protect yourself and your partner by entering into a Domestic Partnership Agreement. For nontraditional families, it is also particularly important to think through questions regarding ownership of property, and insure that any paperwork involved accurately reflects the intention of all those involved. Individuals in a domestic partnership often make commitments to each other that will only be enforceable if they are properly documented. Georgia Lord would be happy to help you prepare suitable paperwork that reflects your values for your relationship. Once this task is done, you will enjoy greater peace of mind, secure in the knowledge that you have made prudent plans to fill in the gaps left by current law.

Until relatively recently, same-sex couples were not allowed to enter into a legal marriage within the State of Georgia. Some Georgia residents who could not legally marry here traveled to other states for a government-licensed marriage ceremony. Even when the couple was legally married in another state that authorized same-sex marriages, however, the courts and public officials of the State of Georgia were prohibited from acknowledging their marriage here. (see Lambda Legal’s case challenging Georgia’s discriminatory marriage ban)

That situation changed on June 26th, 2015, when the U.S. Supreme Court entered the “Marriage Equality” decision of Obergefell v. Hodges, 135 S. Ct. 2584 (2015). Under the Obergefell decision, the State of Georgia must recognize a marriage between two people of the same sex when their marriage was lawfully licensed and performed out-of-State. The decision also requires the State of Georgia to issue licenses for marriages between two people of the same sex on the same basis that it would issue licenses authorizing marriages by spouses of different sexes. Georgia’s public officials have complied with these holdings. The Obergefell decision remedied the prior, gaping inequity that previously existed regarding the treatment of same-sex couples, but left many unknowns in its wake.

At present, there are many open questions regarding the reach of the holding in the Marriage Equality case. Georgia’s courts and the Georgia Legislature will be considering these questions in the years to come. For now, there is tremendous uncertainty regarding what rules will be applied in a same-sex divorce, both as to splitting up property and as to determining who will have custody of the children born or adopted into those relationships.

Georgia Lord is closely monitoring developments in this rapidly-changing area of the law. She recently authored a scholarly article discussing the extent to which many individuals who are or were in same-sex couples have standing to seek custody of the children born or adopted into those relationships. Her article was published in The Family Law Review, a professional journal for Family Law attorneys in Georgia.  Further particulars regarding the information in that article can be found HERE.

If you have been in a same sex marriage or domestic partnership that has ended, Georgia Lord can lead you through the process of severing your property and debts from those of the other party. She can also help you resolve questions of custody and parenting time regarding any children whom you shared with your ex.