How will new Nevada same-sex marriages impact the Las Vegas family court system?
After a federal appeals court upheld gay marriage rulings in Nevada earlier this month, Las Vegas has started to issue its first marriage licenses to same sex couples. Both Nevada Governor Brian Sandoval and the Nevada Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto have said that they will not contest the federal appeals court’s ruling – effectively sealing the decision and giving it some finality. It appears that same-sex marriage is officially here to stay in Nevada. What does this mean from a legal perspective for married same sex couples and for the Clark County family court system, you might wonder? Experienced Las Vegas same-sex divorce attorney Brian Steinberg is here to answer that question. View his answers below.
How the influx of new same-sex marriages may impact the family court system?
Family Court judges in Clark County, Nevada are very busy. So, any increase in their docket to handle “gay” divorces is going to be an issue in terms of taking care of the increased number of cases without an increase in the number of Family Court Judges. On the other hand, if the increase in gay divorces is substantial and there are other increases of cases due to population growth, then additional Family Court Judges will be needed and added if there is room available and funds to pay for the additional judge.
The nature of the claims for divorce, custody, and distribution of community property are substantially similar for a gay couple compared to a straight couple. Difficult issues might arise with the use of surrogates for gay male couples and in vitro fertilization for gay female couples. These may be difficult issues, unless standardized forms resolving these issues become more accepted by the Family Courts. It is also anticipated that gay couples will enter into Prenuptial Agreements. However, there is substantial case law on these types of agreements so a gay divorce with a Prenuptial Agreement will be handled pretty much the same as a straight divorce. In other words, the transition of the family court in handling gay divorces should be very smooth since much of the law already exists to handle their issues in much the same way as a traditional divorce.
How will this impact the role of judges, in your opinion?
As indicated, the role of the judge will be expanded in certain custody situations involving gay divorce. Otherwise, the judges’ role will remain substantially similar for both gay and traditional divorces.