This past week, the United States witnessed a historic Supreme Court ruling when the opinion issued in Obergefell v. Hodges determined that same-sex couples now have the constitutional right to marry in any state. This important decision provides legal clarity and (hopefully) uniformity for what until now has been a confusing and uncertain legal issue and divisive social issue. Governor Nathan Deal and Attorney General Sam Olens have indicated that the state of Georgia does not intend to stand in the way of the Supreme Court’s ruling.
Georgia residents may wonder how this new law affects their rights once they marry their same-sex partners in Georgia or validate their same-sex marriages from another state. In this post, we will look at three areas of family law now impacted in the state of Georgia by the recent Supreme Court of the United States (SCOTUS) ruling
Marriage. The SCOTUS ruling now makes it legal for same-sex couples to marry in Georgia. The ruling also legally acknowledges pre-existing same-sex marriages from other states. A revised marriage license form is already available for same-sex couples through the county probate clerk's office in several counties across the state. The SCOTUS ruling also means same sex couples can create prenuptial and postnuptial agreements.
Adoption. Although adoption is not easy for any couple, more barriers existed for same-sex couples who may have found it difficult if not impossible to adopt a child. In the state of Georgia, a single LGBT parent can adopt a child. But if a same-sex couple wants to adopt a child, only one parent would actually have parental rights (although some loopholes exist that give the other person partial rights). Now, as a result of the SCOTUS ruling, it would not be surprising to see same sex parents or couples having an easier time with this process.
Divorce. If same-sex couples previously could not marry (or have their marriage acknowledged in Georgia), then they also could not divorce. Now, same-sex couples have the same rights to divorce as heterosexual couples—with all of the financial and parental custody rights afforded in that process including equitable division of assets and liabilities.
So, while it’s now legal for same-sex couples to marry it is still not legal for same-sex couples to adopt and have equal parental rights. If you’re unsure about your current rights and how that affects your situation, reach out to us. We’ll help you answer questions about:
- Prenuptial or postnuptial agreements for same-sex couples.
- Same-sex couple rights to adopt and/or parent a child.
- Divorce from your same-sex partner, especially if you were married outside of the state of Georgia.
Reach out to Stearns-Montgomery & Proctor for a consultation today.