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Same-Sex Divorce

Charlotte Same-Sex Divorce & Separation Attorneys

Navigating the complexities of LGBTQ divorce in North Carolina

The landmark 2015 Supreme Court decision of Obergefell v. Hodges declared state bans on same-sex marriages unconstitutional. Obviously these changes to the traditional definition of family were a welcome change, but have also ushered in some legal confusion and uncertainty here in Charlotte and throughout North Carolina. Typically these concerns revolve around family law.

Of course, along with the right to marry comes the right to divorce. Because LGBTQ marriage can bring unique issues with adoption, child custody and estate planning, it’s wise to choose an experienced and compassionate Charlotte family law attorney. The lawyers at Epperson Law Group, PLLC are knowledgeable and up to date on all recent LGBTQ laws and work with you to ensure the rights of you and your children are protected.

What are the requirements for same-sex divorce in Charlotte?

Same-sex unions hold the same legal status as heterosexual unions, so the same North Carolina divorce laws apply:

  • Separation of at least one year
  • One spouse must be a resident of North Carolina for at least six months
  • Completion of all forms in your county family court (Charlotte is located in Mecklenburg County)

Things can get complicated if you’ve been with your partner for many years or if you were married in another state before same-sex marriage was legal in North Carolina. Our Charlotte family law attorneys can tell you more.

What if my partner and I have been cohabitating long term? Are we common law married?

When you begin filling out paperwork for your separation or divorce, you must fill in the date for the beginning of your marital relationship. Some couples in long-term partnerships ask if they should use the date they began living together or the date they were able to legally marry. North Carolina courts only consider the date of a legal marriage the beginning of a marital relationship.

Additionally, under North Carolina G.S. Chapter 51, the courts don’t recognize common law marriage. Common law marriage is when a couple has lived together for an extended period of time and acts as a married couple. The state does, however, recognize common law marriages established in other states.

What are some of the challenges and issues with an LGBTQ divorce?

Even though same-sex couples enjoy the same rights and benefits in divorce proceedings, there can sometimes be some wrinkles or complications. When deciding spousal support and property division issues, the court typically considers the length of the marriage – and because same-sex couples weren’t allowed to legally marry in North Carolina until 2014 (and federally until 2015), a judge may not consider any years prior when determining spousal support.

Other things you need to consider when ending your same-sex marriage include your estate planning, especially in the case of a divorce. Being able to plan for the financial future of your spouse and your children in the event of your death is important and shouldn’t be taken lightly. You should regularly check your beneficiaries – especially during major life events like adoptions, separations and divorce. Your Charlotte same-sex divorce attorney can provide seasoned legal advice about securing a fair and equitable settlement and protecting your marital assets.

Can you help me with child support and child custody in my Charlotte same-sex divorce?

With some divorcing LGBTQ couples, legal issues around child support and visitation can get complicated. When both parents want equal parenting rights and custody of their children, the courts generally consider the biological relationship as well as the best interests of the child.

Our attorneys can help you with matters relating to your minor children, including:

Child custody and visitation

If a child is the biological offspring of only one of the parents, that parent may be considered more favorably over the other spouse. It’s important to establish parental rights prior to a separation – in the event of a divorce, both parents will have the ability to stay active in their child’s life, with the rights and responsibilities that come with it.

Child support

If both parents have parental rights, the court follows North Carolina Child Support Guidelines for child support, calculated according to the child’s living arrangements and other variables. If only one parent has legal parental rights, it’s important to speak to a family law attorney to find out your options.


Often, traditional adoption or stepparent adoption is a common way LGBTQ couples can share parental rights to their children and unite their families at the same time. When a same-sex couple is divorcing and one of the parents doesn’t have full parental rights, child custody and child support orders are the available remedies to ensure you don’t lose valuable time with your child.

We can also help Charlotte LGBTQ families in legal matters involving:

Talk to the divorce attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC to fight for what matters most.

Reliable Charlotte same-sex divorce and separation attorneys

Family law issues involving LGBTQ couples continue to evolve and, unfortunately, discrimination and prejudice still exists. The divorce attorneys at Epperson Law Group, PLLC are both compassionate to your situation and aggressive when it comes to fighting for your rights. We have the skills your situation demands. Talk to our team today. You’ll find our offices right off Exit 57 from I-485. To reserve a consultation with one of our lawyers in Charlotte, Boone, or Weddington, please call 704-321-0031 or fill out our contact form.


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