Pittsburgh LGBTQ Marriage Lawyer
Our nation’s laws finally recognize the truth that love is universal and not stopped by race, national origin, religion, sex, or gender. Following the U.S. Supreme Court’s landmark decision in Obergefell v. Hodges in 2015, all individuals now have the fundamental right to marry. This crucial decision enabled same-sex couples across the U.S. to formally marry within their states. A right that had been denied many. While this victory has enabled couples to formalize their relationships and take advantage of the rights granted to spouses, the law regarding LGBTQ issues is not black and white. There are still areas in which you face legal challenges or unique issues as a same-sex couple and need the help of a compassionate Pittsburgh LGBTQ marriage lawyer.
If you and your spouse are facing a family law issue and have questions about your rights, do not hesitate to reach out to a Pittsburgh marriage lawyer with Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC at (412) 471-5100. Everyone is welcome to our office and we will happily answer your questions.
Same-Sex Marriage in Pennsylvania
As part of entering a same-sex marriage, you must go through the typical process, which requires obtaining a marriage license and going through a ceremony conducted by a licensed officiant. You and your fiancé must go to your local marriage license bureau 2-3 weeks prior to your ceremony to apply for a marriage license and pay a fee. It takes about 3 days for your license to be issued and then it is valid for 60 days. At the ceremony, which can be before a judge, magistrate, or religious figure, you exchange vows. Afterward, you, your new spouse, officiant, and a witness sign the license, which is then returned to the county to be filed.
However, Pennsylvania is also a rare state that offers a self-uniting marriage license. You apply for it the same way as a traditional license, but it is signed by only you, your spouse, and two witnesses before it is mailed back to be filed. No officiant needed.
Changing Your Name After Marriage
One of the most traditional aspects of getting married is the changing of the last name. This is usually a practice for brides and so common and expected that new brides are given an easier path to changing their names on their Social Security Cards and other forms by simply providing a valid marriage certificate. They do not have to return to court after their marriage and request a name change.
If you or your spouse want to take the other’s last name or hyphenate your last names, you can go through the simplified process after the marriage certificate is completed and filed. First, sign the marriage certificate with the last name you wish to have. Once you have a copy, you will both start the name change process by completing an application for a new Social Security Card with the Social Security Administration. You will also need your birth certificate and current ID. Upon having your new Social Security Card, you can then change your driver’s license and bank accounts. Also, do not forget to update your employment documents, credit cards, insurance cards, doctor’s offices, passports, and voter registration.
Changing Your Name Through the Courts
If you did not sign your married name on the marriage certificate or you decide to change your name sometime after your marriage, you will need to ask the court’s permission to alter your names. With the help of a family law attorney, you and your spouse can each file a name change petition with the courts. You will need to pay a fee, have your fingerprints taken, publish notice of your impending name change in two newspapers, and attend a name change hearing. Once you have a court decree changing your name, you can change it with the Social Security Administration.
Obtaining Spousal Benefits
One of the advantages of being married is that you and your spouse can obtain each other’s insurance, workers’ compensation, and Social Security benefits. However, to ensure this happens when the time comes, you must make sure the Social Security Administration and all other relevant agencies or insurers know you are legally married. Whether or not you change your name, update your marital status with the Social Security Administration right away. You and your spouse should also update your respective employer’s information and any insurance policies you have, particularly health and life insurance.
Adoption and Surrogacy Are Available to Same-Sex Couples
If you and your spouse are interested in using adoption or surrogacy to expand your family, be sure to speak with a family law attorney first. Adoptions and surrogacy situations can be complicated for same-sex couples, particularly when only one are genetically related to the child. If the correct legal process is not adhered to, you or your spouse may not have parental rights over your child as you intended.
Same-sex couples are entitled to adopt in Pennsylvania. You can both seek to adopt a child together or one of you may adopt the other’s biological son or daughter. Attorney Anthony Piccirilli has personal experience with the adoption process and can not only explain your rights, but can give you an insider’s perspective of how the process works and its emotional elements.
Many same-sex couples choose surrogacy. However, Pennsylvania has no surrogacy laws to offer prospective parents guidance as to the best way to go about this. Surrogacy comes in multiple forms and the process can be handled differently depending on your and your surrogate’s needs and desires. If you choose to use surrogacy, you will need an attorney to draft a surrogacy contract and ensure that you and your spouse will have parental rights over your child at birth.
If one or both of you will be related to the child born through surrogacy, you may not need to utilize adoption. You may be able to establish your legal parentage through the Assisted Conception Birth Registration process available in Pennsylvania. However, if neither of you will be genetically related to the child or your county will not enable the unrelated intended parent to use the registration process, then you will need to understand the adoption process. If you or your spouse will not be related to the child, you may be able to utilize the stepparent adoption process, which does not require a home study.
If you or your spouse have children from another relationship, you may need to determine a child custody arrangement. There are no legal barriers in Pennsylvania in regard to same-sex parents having custody of children. However, custody disputes can be emotional and hotly contested. It is best to work with an understanding and tenacious lawyer who will fight for your right to see and raise your children.
Pittsburgh custody lawyer Anthony Piccirilli can help you develop a parenting plan with your child’s other parent or represent you through the court process.
Contact a Pittsburgh LGBTQ Marriage Lawyer for Advice
Life is full of ups and downs and many issues within a family can lead to a need for legal advice. Whether you need guidance through a formal name change or want to know more about your legal options to expand your family, the attorneys of Pittsburgh Divorce & Family Law, LLC are here to help. Call us at (412) 471-5100.
We are here to get to know you, answer your questions, and guide you through whatever legal process is necessary as smoothly as possible.