On Friday, October 10, 2014, U.S. District Judge Max Cogburn entered an order striking down Amendment 1 to the North Carolina State Constitution, the state’s ban on same-sex marriage.  Judge Cogburn’s Order held: “The issue before this court is neither a political issue nor a moral issue. It is a legal issue and it is clear as a matter of what is now settled law in the Fourth Circuit that North Carolina laws prohibiting same sex marriage, refusing to recognize same sex marriages originating elsewhere, and/or threating to penalize those who would solemnize such marriages, are unconstitutional.” Immediately after the ruling was announced, gay and lesbian couples across the State began receiving marriage licenses and participating in wedding ceremonies.

The ability to obtain a legal marriage, or the recognition of a legal marriage performed elsewhere, presents new and challenging legal issues for same-sex couples in North Carolina.  Couples who have already married may need to consider re-titling real and personal property, obtaining a step-parent adoption, and updating their estate planning documents.  Couples contemplating marriage may need assistance with a prenuptial agreement and advice on the legal rights and obligations that accompany marriage.   Along with the right to marry, comes the right to divorce.  For the first time in North Carolina, same-sex couples will have the protection of the equitable distribution and spousal support laws previously only afforded to heterosexual couples.

Lawyers at James, McElroy and Diehl, P.A. have been assisting same-sex couples with domestic and family issues for many years, and are up-to-date on the rapidly changing law in this area.    In addition, we are one of the leading domestic firms in Charlotte, and have deep experience in issues surrounding marriage, adoption, divorce, and estate planning for couples.  We look forward to helping our clients navigate the transition that the recent change in law has brought about.