North Carolina Same-Sex Couple Rights

In 2015, the Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriage for every state in the union in their ruling of Obergefell v. Hodges. The 2015 Obergefell decision made a great impact in North Carolina and everywhere else, in the ruling that gave same-sex couples the right to marry anytime, anywhere, and without the worry that their marriage won’t be legally recognized.

Due to the Obergefell decision, a whole new batch of legal concerns for same-sex couples was created, especially for those couples who marry and then at some point, choose to divorce.

The Charlotte, North Carolina law firm of Remington & Dixon understands some of the most important issues that many same-sex couples may face in North Carolina.  They include:

When Same-Sex Couples Divorce Does Long-Term Cohabitation Matter?

As a same-sex couple in North Carolina, you may face the same challenges as other couples when it comes to finances, personal lives, and the structure of your family.

In North Carolina, the courts consider same-sex marriages to begin on the date they were married, regardless of how long you and your partner may have lived together before that.

While North Carolina is not a common law marriage state, it will recognize common law marriages that were properly established under the laws in other states.  If you and your partner divorce, it’s important to note that the actual date you were married is the date the court will use when it comes to you acquiring marital property.

Are There Other Family Law Considerations for Same-Sex Couples in North Carolina?

The short answer is yes. There are federal laws and North Carolina laws and statutes that will affect you in the event of a divorce or other family law matter.  They include:

  • North Carolina is an equitable distribution state, not a community property state. This means that a North Carolina court will divide your assets in an equitable manner, which is not, in all cases, the same as equal. This decision will be based on many different legal considerations.  Generally, an equitable distribution state gives the judge a very wide latitude to decide who gets what.


  • As a same-sex couple who got married and then decide to get a divorce, you will need to go through a legal divorce to end your marriage. It’s important that you understand that if you don’t have a formal divorce, you are still legally married, and any assets or property you may accrue prior to your separation from your partner is still part of your marital estate according to North Carolina law.


  • A same-sex couple is now allowed to adopt a child together as a married couple, and any state will recognize your adoption as being legal. If you and your partner legally adopt a child as a married couple, you will normally keep your full parental rights in the event of a divorce and will have to come to a custody agreement, either by mutually agreeing to one or in court.


  • If only one parent in a same-sex marriage is the legal parent, whether due to a biological relationship with your child or legal adoption, the other parent has to know they may not have any legal rights as a parent in the event of a divorce or separation. This may be true whether or not you have been acting as a parent for a long period of time unless you can prove to a North Carolina court that the biological parent of the child acted in a way that is not consistent with their parental rights.

As parents in a same-sex relationship when neither of you is the biological parent, only a legal adoption will give you status as a legal parent.

If you are in a same-sex relationship and thinking about adopting a child or facing a divorce, it’s vital that you consult with a Charlotte divorce attorney who can help you understand your legal rights and the various options that may be available to you.

At the Charlotte, North Carolina law firm of Remington & Dixon, we understand that the decision to divorce is never an easy one for you or your spouse.  We will handle your North Carolina family law matter with understanding and compassion when trying to find a solution. We will work with the other side to try to come to an agreement, but we also aren’t afraid to stand up in court and fight for your individual rights in an aggressive manner, if necessary.

A Charlotte Family Law Attorney at Remington & Dixon has the skill and experience in all major North Carolina family law matters that surround the end of your marriage including alimony, custody, child support, division of property, and divorce. We are here to help you


Are consultations free?

While we offer a free consultation on traffic matters, criminal matters, and most professional license defense cases, we charge a fee for family law consultations to personalize our consultations to your specific needs. To learn about our fee structure, please get in touch.

Where can I get legal advice?

We recommend meeting with an attorney. While there is free legal help available for North Carolina residents from pro bono resources for civil matters, and public defenders for criminal cases, the best way to access tailored advice is to hire a lawyer.

Can I hire you if I’m in another state?

This is done on a case by case basis if you are involved in a family law, criminal, or professional disciplinary matter that involves another jurisdiction.



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