lgbtq family law

Same-Sex Marriage and LGBTQ+ Family Law in Missouri: Rights and Challenges

Same-sex couples have lived together and supported each other just as their heterosexual counterparts do for thousands of years. But it was only recently that the United States made marriage equality across all 50 states a legal right. For couples who are recently married or are considering getting married, it’s important that you understand your rights in full. Here’s what your Missouri family law attorney wants you to know.

You’re Entitled to Equal Treatment Under the Law

Marriage equality became law in 2015 and since that time, same-sex couples have been entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples. That means all rights conveyed by getting married are ones you have access to from the right to visit your loved one in a hospital to receiving inheritance. 

Prior to the federal recognition of same-sex marriages, those rights were not guaranteed, even if couples were married out of state. 

Same-Sex Parents May Need to Legally Adopt Their Children

Though you’re entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples, child custody can be a bit more difficult to navigate. In most cases, same-sex couples can be listed as co-parents on birth certificates when one spouse is giving birth to the child. This makes it relatively simple for married women, but it’s more difficult for gay men. 

In some instances, the non-biological parent may need to petition for adoption of their spouse’s child in order to have full parental rights. These requests are treated the same as heterosexual couples, but the process can take time. Working with a family law attorney who is familiar with same-sex adoptions and parental rights can help.

Old Civil Unions Do Not Grant You Immediate Marital Rights

Prior to individual states issuing marriage licenses to same-sex couples, many chose to pursue civil unions. These civil unions enhanced the rights couples had under the law, but those rights were still limited compared to the rights that married couples receive. If you have a civil union certificate in place, know that the certificate may not grant you the same rights that you’d receive if you were married to your partner. You may need to take additional steps to protect your rights and your property if you choose not to get married.

Speak with your family law attorney to determine which rights you have and what you need to do to make sure you’re given the legal rights and protection you and your partner want.

Your Rights Are the Same Under Federal Law

With the federal recognition of marriage equality, married same-sex couples are entitled to the same rights as heterosexual couples. But that doesn’t mean you won’t face challenges throughout your life, and if you and your spouse decide to divorce at a later date, you’ll want to work with an attorney who understands those unique challenges. 

At Columbia Family Law, our team is proud to help same-sex couples with all of their family law needs. We’re here whether you’re trying to pursue adoption, want to create a unique last name for you and your spouse, or need to terminate a marriage that’s no longer bringing you joy. Contact us today to schedule a consultation.