Same-sex marriage became legal in Minnesota on July 1, 2013, years before the Supreme Court of the United States recognized the fundamental right guaranteed to all by the Constitution in the historic Obergefell v. Hodges decision. Despite legal recognition of the right to marry, LGBT couples, families, and individuals continue to face obstacles, including outdated statutes, underdeveloped case law, and discrimination.
If you are seeking representation in the Twin Cities metro area or anywhere in the state of Minnesota, the lawyers at Sheridan & Dulas, P.A., are here to help. We are proud allies and take pride in representing LGBT couples, families, and individuals who are in need of legal representation.
Legal Representation for the LGBT Community
Minnesota family law attorneys DeAnne L. Dulas and Andrew T. Hunstad are effective, competent, and allies, determined to represent their clients’ rights in the following matters:
- Divorce: Marriage equality has granted LGBT individuals access to rights that may not have previously been available. However, the Minnesota legislature provided no direction to the courts on how to approach divorce cases in which couples were historically denied their right to marry but were partnered for years or decades prior to their legally recognized marriage. Our attorneys are thoughtful when working with LGBT individuals who are divorcing an opposite or same-sex spouse.
- Property division: Questions of joint property ownership may be more complicated between LGBT couples, for whom marriage is a recently recognized right. We are diligent in our efforts to stay informed of developing case law of Minnesota and other jurisdictions to ensure we can identify all marital property to ensure a fair and equitable division.
- Child custody and parenting time: For LGBT couples, ensuring the parental relationship is properly documented and legally acknowledged is necessary to secure your parental rights. Failing to do so could result in costly litigation, complications in your future ability to co-parent, or may result in a court denying parental rights entirely.
For an LGBT individual coming out of the closet at the end of heterosexual marriage or relationship can be complicated by the reaction of your spouse or partner.
State law does not expressly prohibit or permit a judge, referee, or evaluator from considering the sexuality of a parent seeking when establishing or modifying custody of a minor child. Nor do any statutes prevent the opposing party from raising the issue of sexual orientation, gender identity, or gender-role behavior. Court decisions disadvantaging LGBT parents historically have overlooked important social science research on parenting by LGBT individuals. Such research has established that LGBT parents are as effective as heterosexual parents and that children raised by LGBT parents are as well-adjusted as their peers raised by heterosexual parents. Rather, the underlying issue continues to be what serves the best interest of the minor child. Our attorneys understand that their clients and situations are unique and deserve to be treated with dignity.
Unfortunately, in some situation, a parent may be unaccepting of an LGBT child. An intolerant parent may express no interest in being involved with their child, paying child support, be uncooperative in obtaining necessary medical treatment and/or therapy, believe the child places their siblings at harm, or insist on the LGBT child participating in conversion therapy. In such as case, it is necessary to obtain a court order to establish a custody, parenting time, and child support obligation that serves the best interest of the child and prevents an intolerant parent from, either directly or indirectly, harming the child physically, emotionally, or developmentally.
- Child support and spousal maintenance: The conditions under which child support and spousal maintenance are available may be different for an LGBT couple, depending on the facts. To best preserve a right to child support and/or spousal maintenance parties should complete the necessary steps to have their legal rights recognized. Let our experienced attorneys work to achieve your desired goals.
- Third Party Custody and Third Party Adoption: A common misconception is that marriage equality expanded the manner to which parental rights are legally established, this is untrue. Even if both parents are named on a birth certificate, birth certificates are not provided Full Faith and Credit and parental acknowledgment could be declined in another state. The potential consequences could be disastrous for a family upon separation, divorce, or untimely death of the legally recognized parent and could result in a lack of parenting time, child support, custody, or inheritance.
- Prenuptial/Antenuptial Agreements: Our attorneys have experience with the unique issues LGBT couples face, and we can help draft a personalized Prenuptial/Antenuptial Agreement that addresses your specific concerns and needs.
- Cohabitation agreements: In the event, a nonmarital relationship ends, a cohabitation agreement can address an unmarried couple’s wishes to equitably divide property accumulated during the relationship.
- Estate planning strategies: Estate planning documents can protect your family by ensuring you – not the court – will make important legal decisions affecting your family. Estate planning documents also allow you to control the dispersal of your assets. Proper estate planning is essential for all families and our attorneys can help avoid unintended consequences for LGBT families, couples, or individuals, who may not be legally married to their partner or legally adopt their children.
Experienced And Respected Counsel In Family Law
Attorney Andrew Hunstad has practiced law since 2013 and practices exclusively in matters of family law. He also brings a wealth of experience in complex divorces, including cases involving closely-held businesses, undisclosed or hidden assets, disproportionate incomes, and high debt levels. He also has considerable experience representing clients in high-conflict matters. Andrew zealously and diligently advocates for his clients’ desired results.
At Sheridan & Dulas, P.A., we do not try to push clients in a particular direction. Your goals and the dynamics of your case will dictate the approach that we take. We work to provide you with the information you need to put you in the driver’s seat and help you navigate complicated proceedings to achieve the best outcome.
Contact our office today at 651-686-8800 to set up a free, no-obligation consultation. Our family law lawyers practice across the Twin Cities, including Dakota, Washington, Hennepin, Scott, Carver, Ramsey, Goodhue, and Anoka counties, and in greater Minnesota.