LGBTQ+ Family Law
Family law cases are already tough… but LGBTQ+ family law can be even more challenging and complex for couples.
So, today more than ever, LGBTQ+ couples need experienced family law attorneys who understand and specialize in protecting their rights.
And your help begins with a simple, confidential and straightforward conversation.
Merel Family Law: Compassionate and Knowledgeable LGBTQ+ Family Law Attorneys Protecting You and Your Family
LGBTQ+ relationships often are misunderstood by attorneys and judges, which can handicap couples who rely on them for sound legal advice and judgment. That’s why we’ve proactively developed a deep LGBTQ+ family law specialty in our legal practice. Our legal team recognizes that applying heteronormative expectations on LGBTQ+ families is unrealistic and insensitive.
When you trust your family law case to us, you’ll experience unparalleled, comprehensive support from our team of attorneys who are experts in complex divorce, adoption, custody and restraining order cases. Even better, our attorneys have provided this skilled and compassionate legal representation for over 20 years. And we’d like to do the same for you.
Why Choose Merel Family Law For Your LGBTQ+ Family Attorney?
Our clients are the type of people who demand and deserve world-class legal representation, and they won’t settle for anything less. So, we do our homework, stay on top of changes and emergent issues, prepare for every scenario, collaborate when it makes sense and fight like hell when it doesn’t.
We work just as hard to keep it. Our team of seasoned attorneys has worked diligently to help earn the respect of our Chicago-area colleagues, clients, judges, court systems and community, and we intend to keep it that way. In other words, our reputation speaks for itself.
All cases are unique, and while we prefer to approach our clients’ cases in a spirit of collaboration and negotiation, we are also not afraid to “take the gloves off” when needed. In other words, our clients’ answer to the question, “What does winning look like to you?” informs our strategies, tactics, and tone.
You’ll have peace of mind knowing we will never push you into a lengthy, costly and unnecessary court trial. However, we will use all legal remedies to protect your rights.
Our seasoned attorneys have specific expertise in cases involving women, LGBTQ+ couples, fathers, high-net-worth individuals, dissolution of long-term marriages, spouses who own businesses, appeals, and more. We’ll ensure you’re represented by an experienced attorney who understands and respects your situation, the law, and how best to work through your unique challenges.
Unlike other law firms, we know how important it is to manage our client’s expectations and be available to answer their questions and concerns outside of regular business hours. You can contact us by phone, text, or email around the clock.
Schedule an appointment at any one of our four in-person offices in Chicago, Hinsdale, Skokie and Highland Park, or conduct some or all of your court proceedings online via Zoom. In some instances, an in-court appearance may be required by the judge. If so, you’ll typically be given at least 30 days advance notice.
“Fierce attorney who will fight for you”
Our 4-Step Process
What to Expect from Our LGBTQ+ Family Law Experts and the Process of Resolving Disputes
Step 1: Contact us by phone (312-408-7000) or email. Our intake coordinator will ask a few simple – and completely confidential – questions to connect you with the right lawyer. Depending on your schedule, your initial consultation could be scheduled as soon as the same day.
Step 2: Consult with your attorney. During your initial conversation with your lawyer, you’ll be asked to share all aspects of your situation, including mental health, domestic violence, finances, current or past substance abuse/use and applicable family history.
Step 3: Pay the retainer fee & legal process begins. All divorce cases are different – some are easy and straightforward, others are extremely complex and most are somewhere between. We will use this type of criteria to assess your retainer fee amount.
Step 4: Your attorney will determine, communicate and execute your case strategy. Initially, this includes filing appropriate paperwork. After which, mediation or litigation begins surrounding the dispute.
Merel Family Law By The Numbers
LGBTQ+ Adoption For Second Parents
Our legal team specializes in second-parent adoptions for LGBTQ+ clients. This process allows a non-biological parent to adopt their non-biological child. This strengthens the non-biological parent’s rights to the child as if they were a biological parent. This is especially relevant for LGBTQ+ parents who have expanded their families through assisted reproductive technology. Our LGBTQ adoption rights attorneys provide guidance through the adoption process.
Services Offered By Our LGBTQ+ Family Lawyers
Domestic violence, including intimidation, manipulation, humiliation, and physical harm, is prevalent no matter the sexual orientation or gender identity of those involved. Individuals in queer and same-sex relationships may face unique challenges such as threats of outing their sexual orientation, double discrimination, lack of adequate support services, and misconceptions rooted in stereotypes. Our LGBTQ+ family law attorneys are dedicated to providing inclusive legal support to help victims navigate these obstacles, ensuring they receive the protection and justice they deserve.
Navigating the complexities and emotional toll of a divorce or dissolving a civil union can be overwhelming. The proficient and assertive legal team at Merel Family Law is dedicated to making sure you are supported throughout this challenging process. As our valued client, our commitment is to offer you superior representation and maintain open lines of communication to address your questions and concerns promptly.
Although same-sex marriage has been legal since 2013 in Illinois, the laws surrounding same-sex child custody can still be complicated. It is imperative to hire an experienced LGBTQ+ divorce lawyer to guide you through the complexities of the legal process. We understand the best interests of the child, as well as all parties involved, are our primary concern. Our legal team will go above and beyond to ensure that your LGBTQ adoption rights are protected and that a fair resolution is reached.
Divorce cases involving substantial assets require professionals on your side who are experienced in dealing with considerable assets, such as real estate, investments, and business stakes. Legal advice becomes paramount when safeguarding your property rights, guaranteeing fair distribution, and determining a suitable amount of alimony based on your unique situation. Our high-asset divorce attorneys will help you navigate this process and advocate for your best interests.
Get Support From a Top-Rated Adoption Rights and LGBTQ Divorce Lawyer
At Merel Family Law, we want to solve your LGBTQ adoption rights and divorce disputes quickly and smoothly. That starts with scheduling a consultation with our experienced intake coordinators. Then, our team of skilled LGBTQ+ family law attorneys will provide you with the support you need to navigate the complexities of a family law case.
LGBTQ+ Family Lawyers & Processes
Frequently Asked Questions
In Illinois, queer and same-sex couples file for divorce like any other couple. Since Illinois is a no-fault state, the spouse who files a Petition for Dissolution of Marriage only needs to cite irreconcilable differences as a reason for divorce. You must also meet the 90-day residency requirement and file for divorce in the county where you live.
While the process is generally similar to divorcing heterosexual couples, some unique challenges may arise. Issues can occur around child custody if one partner is not the biological parent and hasn’t legally adopted the child. The court may hesitate to award visitation or custody rights in such cases. Property division can also be a contentious issue, especially for couples who have commingled assets and property in a marriage-like arrangement before same-sex marriage was legalized in Illinois in 2013.
The Illinois Parentage Act of 2015 was passed when same-sex marriage became legal across the country. It provides child custody guidelines for same-sex parents, including a gender-neutral presumption of parentage that applies to the spouse of a woman regardless of their gender.
According to the Act, a person can be presumed a parent of a minor child in any of the following situations:
- The child was born while the spouses were in a marriage or civil union.
- The child was born within 300 days of the end of the marriage or civil union.
- The child was born during a marriage or civil union, but the union was later declared invalid.
- After the child’s birth, a person marries the birth mother, and the individual consents to being added to the birth certificate.
LGBTQ+ couples have the same parental rights and responsibilities as heterosexual couples in Illinois. Under the Parentage Act, both parents can sign the child’s birth certificate and build parent-child relationships. To obtain parental responsibilities, a person must be declared a parent. In cases of joint LGBTQ+ adoption, both parents have equal custody and visitation rights if they file for a divorce.