Common Family Law Issues for Same-Sex Couples

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common family lawSince same sex marriages became legal nationwide thanks to the U.S. Supreme Court in 2014, same-sex couples now face many of the same legal issues as more traditional families, with some exceptions. Before a Fairfax, Virginia, couple gets married, especially if one party already has children or owns a business or substantial assets, it would be a good idea to talk to a family law attorney about how to avoid legal issues before they arise.

Pre-nuptial agreements

They can make a possible future divorce far less stressful and complicated if it is properly executed. This is not a document you want to pull off the internet and fill out yourself. It may be successfully challenged by a spouse feeling he or she is being treated unfairly, be judged as invalid and you’ll have wasted your time, energy and money.

This type of agreement spells out who owns what assets and debts prior to the marriage and who will get what assets and be responsible for which debts in case of a divorce. The agreement can also state who will get how much spousal support and how estate planning documents will be written and who will get life insurance benefits. These agreements can greatly narrow the issues being disputed in a divorce and encourage a resolution of remaining issues without resorting to litigation.

Military divorces

Not only can same-sex couples marry but sexual preference is no longer a bar to military service (whether transsexual service members will be able to serve in the military is currently unresolved). Military divorces have their own twists. If one or both spouses are in the military and a divorce is sought, Virginia law covers most divorce issues but Federal laws authorize a state court to treat a service member’s military retired pay as marital property and directs how state courts can divide it between the spouses.


Virginia law allows an unmarried parent or a married couple to adopt. Because same-sex marriage is permitted in Virginia, a married same-sex couple (even a non-resident married couple) can adopt a child together. They must go through the same procedure as all adoptions.

  • A home study needs to be performed.
  • It may be done as an agency or parental placement adoption.
  • The child could be within Virginia or from elsewhere.

If one spouse is the legal parent of a child before the marriage, after marriage the parties can seek a step-parent adoption. The marriage doesn’t make the non-legal parent a legal parent to his or her spouse’s child so this process is required.

Child custody

If during a marriage one of the spouses becomes a biological parent, and the parties separate, most often the spouses reach an agreement on custody rights and a schedule for how much time a spouse will have with the child. If an agreement can’t be reached, without a legal adoption being finalized prior to the divorce, whether the non-biological parent has any custody rights to the child could be disputed.

For a Fairfax, Virginia family law attorney with the knowledge and training to represent you in a number of issues, contact Shoun Bach at 703-222-3333 or fill out our contact form today. As one of the largest family law focused firms in Virginia, our attorneys have over 200 years of collective legal experience, giving our firm the unique ability to provide tailored legal representation to meet your needs.

If your case calls for an aggressive litigator, we have attorneys with extensive courtroom experience who can provide you with vigorous representation and defense. We also have skilled collaborative attorneys and mediators who can help you achieve a cooperative resolution.


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Written By ShounBach

Since 1975, ShounBach has served the Northern Virginia community. Our team brings over 200 years of combined legal experience and has grown to be one of Virginia’s largest family and estate law firms.

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