Gay, Lesbian and Transgendered Family Law

Pennsylvania and New Jersey Family Law Attorneys

Until recently, gay and lesbian couples did not have the same legal protections and allowances as married couples. On May 20, 2014 this changed. U.S. District Judge John E. Jones ruled that Pennsylvania’s ban on same-sex marriage was unconstitutional. However, this decision came too late for many Pennsylvania couples.

Without the benefit of marriage, issues related to custody of children, division of property upon separation, spousal maintenance, even inheritance rights and probate are made more difficult for gays and lesbians. However, legal options exist which effectively provide the same kinds of legal protection available to married couples, through partnership agreements, tenancy agreements, and other legal contracts. At Petrelli Previtera Schimmel, we assist gay and lesbian couples in creating legal solutions that help them achieve their short and long-term family related goals whether they are legally married or not. Since this is a new and developing area of the law, it is often necessary to combine contract law, family law, and estate planning in order to create solutions that work, and we are able to do that creatively.

Our office has the resources and experience needed to help you and your partner protect your children, assets, and health care benefits. To learn how we can help you, at Petrelli Previtera Schimmel today.

Finding Family Law Solutions that Work

Petrelli Previtera Schimmel provides direction and legal representation for gay and lesbian couples in regard to the following:

  • Domestic Partnership agreements
  • Dissolution of Domestic Partnerships
  • Division of property upon separation
  • Custody and support of children
  • Tenancy agreements
  • Durable power of attorney
  • HIPAA regulations and healthcare directives
  • Reallocation of assets
  • Transfer of real estate and other property
  • Palimony issues (New Jersey only, PA does not recognize)

Protecting Your Partner, Children, and Assets

Gay and lesbian couples who are not married and do not have a partnership agreement, tenancy agreement, or documented legal relationship can encounter problems if they decide to separate. If you and your partner adopted a child during your relationship, the court will have to determine custody, parenting time, and an appropriate level of child support. This may be further complicated if one of the partners is the biological parent.

Additionally, your ex-partner may sue you for a division of partnership assets, including any equity acquired on your home during your relationship, any earnings on investments from that time, and interest earned on your bank accounts. Our lawyers have the knowledge and experience needed to help you protect and assert your rights to ensure you are fully protected.

Estate Issues for Gay and Lesbian Families

Unmarried gay and lesbian families face unique legal situations, because, unless there is a clear legal documentation of the deceased’s intent, the biological family will inherit everything. Lesbians and gays have no legal rights without clear, expertly prepared documents and society’s notions exclude lesbians and gays.

We are at the Forefront of Gay and Lesbian Family Law

In recent years, a number of important legal developments have occurred in regard to recognizing gay and lesbian marriages. While still controversial, the implications of the “privileges and immunities” clause in Article IV of the Constitution could provide the legal foundation for recognizing gay and lesbian marriage. As a result, law is currently being made in this area as cases on appeal make their way through the state and federal judicial system.

At Petrelli Previtera Schimmel, we’re poised on the cutting edge of development in this area. We follow cases closely in order to use new legal precedents in establishing our clients’ cases.

Domestic Partnership Registry

Although Pennsylvania does not recognize civil unions, many cities and municipalities allow lesbian and gay couples to declare themselves domestic partners. Many employers recognize such registries for insurance purposes. Filing this document can help you and your partner get coverage.

Need Additional Information? Contact Thomas J. Petrelli, Jr. Today to Discuss Your Options

Although the ban on same-sex marriage has been overturned, the law in gay and lesbian family law matters isn’t always clear or evident. Consequently, gays and lesbians often make the mistake of thinking they don’t have a legal recourse in something when, in fact, they do.

Don’t assume you know your options, contact one of our lawyers at Petrelli Previtera Schimmel today and learn how we can make the law work in your favor.