Understanding LGBTQ Family Law in Nevada
This pride month, the queer community is gearing up to celebrate the eighth anniversary of the national legalization of same-sex marriage in the U.S. This incredible milestone was achieved on June 26, 2015, after the landmark Obergefell v. Hodgesruling established that banning gay marriage was unlawful in the United States.
As America prepares to celebrate this major and well-deserved achievement by LGBTQIA+ individuals, it’s important to remember that state-specific nuances in same-sex family law can open the door to discrimination and harassment, impeding the ability of queer couples and families to exercise the same rights and freedoms of heterosexual Nevadans.
Keep reading to learn more about same-sex marriage/divorce and other vital components of LGBTQ family law in Nevada.
What Is LGBTQ Family Law?
LGBTQ family law is a modern legal practice area that addresses legal issues faced by same-sex couples, transgender individuals, and their families. Common cases in LGBTQ family law include:
Same-Sex Marriage Laws in Nevada
On October 9, 2014, Nevada's ban on same-sex marriage was ruled unconstitutional, legalizing same-sex marriages in Nevada and granting LGBTQ couples equal access to the rights, benefits, and responsibilities that come with marriage. This includes rights related to healthcare, property, taxes, and inheritance. Today, family laws in Nevada prioritize the rights of both heterosexual and queer couples in various family law disputes, from divorce to name changes to marital agreements (prenups).
Adoption & Surrogacy for LGBTQ Families
LGBTQ couples in Nevada can adopt children, either through private adoption agencies or through the state's foster care system. Nevada law prohibits discrimination based on sexual orientation or gender identity in the adoption process, ensuring that queer or same-sex couples have equal opportunities to adopt.
Under Nevada law, same-sex spouses can also be legally recognized as parents of children born through assisted reproductive technology (ART), including in vitro fertilization (IVF) and surrogacy. Second-parent adoption, a process that allows a non-biological parent to adopt their partner's child without terminating the biological parent's rights, is also available to LGBTQ couples in Nevada.
It's worth noting that Nevada is one of the most surrogacy-friendly states in the U.S., with comprehensive statutes governing gestational surrogacy agreements. This allows both traditional and gestational surrogacy for queer couples while prohibiting discrimination against LGBTQ individuals seeking to grow their families through surrogacy.
Child Support & Custody for Same-Sex Parents
In cases of divorce or separation, Nevada's child custody and child support laws apply equally to LGBTQ parents. The court will make decisions based on the best interests of the child, considering factors such as the child's relationship with each parent, the stability of each parent's home environment, and each parent's ability to provide for the child's needs.
Challenges of LGBTQ Family Law
Same-sex couples can face many unique legal challenges when it comes to adopting children or establishing parental rights. Transgender individuals can also face legal challenges related to gender identity, such as changing their name or gender marker on legal documents, accessing healthcare, or protecting their parental rights.
Because LGBTQ family law is complex and evolving, it's important for LGBTQ individuals and families to work with an experienced family lawyer with specialized experience and training in this unique area of the law. A knowledgeable attorney can help queer families understand their legal options and navigate the legal system.
While Nevada's divorce laws apply equally to same-sex couples—including matters like property division, alimony, and the dissolution of a domestic partnership—there are many distinct hardships of navigating LGBTQ family law in Nevada, such as for LGBTQ families who were married elsewhere before same-sex unions were legally recognized in Nevada, or for same-sex couples with children from previous relationships.
LBGTQ families can face many unique challenges when it comes to family matters, such as:
- Legal recognition of parentage for non-biological parents
- Navigating the complexities of assisted reproductive technology and surrogacy agreements
- Addressing potential bias or discrimination in the legal system
- Ensuring that both partners' rights are protected in the event of divorce or separation
It's essential to stay informed about the latest legal developments and resources available to protect your legal rights and the rights of your family. Advocates and organizations like the National Center for Lesbian Rights (NCLR), Lambda Legal, Human Rights Campaign (HRC), American Bar Association (ABA), and local LGBTQ community centers are excellent resources for information and legal assistance regarding LGBTQ family law in the state of Nevada.
Hiring Experienced Representation for LGBTQ Family Law
In Nevada, significant progress has been made to protect the rights of gay and same-sex couples and ensure they have equal access to representation in family law matters. However, navigating the legal landscape as a member of the LGBTQIA+ community can require a specific understanding the Nevada law, not to mention the unique challenges that tend to arise within this new and politically charged practice area.
For this reason, it’s crucial for queer couples and families to seek sound counsel from a trusted LGBTQ family lawyer before appearing in family court, as this can empower them to better understand and exercise their rights accordingly under state and federal law. In addition to helping same-sex couples and LGBTQ families navigate the complexities of LGBTQ laws and proceedings in family court, a qualified same-sex family lawyer can provide invaluable assistance to members of the queer community by:
- Navigating complex legal processes – An LGBTQ family lawyer can help clients understand and navigate the intricacies of Nevada's family laws, including adoption, surrogacy, marriage, divorce, child custody, and child support. They can guide clients through these processes, ensuring that all legal requirements are met and their rights are protected.
- Advocating for clients' rights – LGBTQ family lawyers are well-versed in the unique challenges faced by queer families and can effectively advocate for their client's rights in court. They can help ensure that their clients receive fair treatment throughout the legal process, addressing any potential bias or discrimination they may encounter.
- Assisting with assisted reproductive technology (ART) and surrogacy agreements – An experienced LGBTQ family lawyer can provide guidance and support to clients seeking to grow their families through ART or surrogacy. They can help draft and review surrogacy agreements, ensure compliance with Nevada's surrogacy laws, and protect their client's parental rights.
- Drafting prenuptial and postnuptial agreements – A same-sex marriage lawyer can help LGBTQ couples draft prenuptial and postnuptial agreements that protect their individual assets and financial interests. These agreements can be particularly important for LGBTQ couples who may have accumulated assets before their marriage was legally recognized or who have children from previous relationships.
- Providing tailored representation in divorce and child custody cases – Divorce and child custody cases can be complex and emotionally challenging for any couple. An experienced LGBTQ family lawyer will understand the unique issues that queer and same-sex couples may face during these proceedings and will provide tailored representation to ensure that their client's rights and the best interests of their children are protected.
By working with knowledgeable legal professionals and staying informed about your legal rights, you can protect your family and ensure that your legal needs are met.
Contact a Compassionate Family Lawyer in Nevada
At Law Practice, Ltd., we have a hard-earned reputation for prioritizing the unique needs of every client we serve. For over 30 years, we’ve helped countless families and their loved ones from all diverse walks of life achieve happier, healthier futures. Whether you’re preparing for a contentious divorce, hoping to reach a settlement in the privacy of mediation, or filing for parental relocation, our knowledgeable family law attorneys are here to guide your steps with wisdom and integrity.
Our compassionate family lawyers have three decades of experience representing families in various legal matters. Call (702) 899-2875 to request a consultation.