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LGBTQ Rights

Nashville Attorney Skilled in Family Law Matters

Family law rights affecting people of lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, and queer/questioning (LGBTQ) orientations are changing under Tennessee law. Nashville LGBTQ rights lawyer Amanda Raye Thornton provides compassionate representation related to family law issues, including adoption, custody, and divorce. People navigating these matters in Nashville and throughout Middle Tennessee are offered a free initial consultation with our divorce attorney. Our team responds to inquiries received within 24 hours. We are here to listen to the circumstances in which your family and you find yourselves and work diligently to help you.

Current Issues Affecting the Rights of LGBTQ Couples in Tennessee

Among other recent developments affecting the LGBTQ population in Tennessee, in the spring of 2017, the Governor signed a bill requiring words under state law to be interpreted with their “natural and ordinary meaning, without forced or subtle construction that would limit or extend the meaning of the language.” LGBTQ advocates are concerned that the law is intended to undermine the rights of same-sex couples under Tennessee laws that include words like husband, wife, mother, or father. However, the Governor has responded that he believes that the new law will not change how courts interpret legal precedents. Time will tell what the impact of this legislation will be and how the law changes going forward.

In another example, Tennessee adoption law allows any person over 18 years of age who has been a Tennessee resident for at least six months to adopt a child. Residency requirements may be waived under some circumstances. Adoption-related considerations are, by law, to be based on the well-being of the adopted child. In practice, there may be delays while the lifestyle of a prospective parent is assessed. About a decade ago, the Tennessee Attorney General’s office stated that, assuming that the adoption is found to be in the best interests of the child who is the subject of the adoption, there is no prohibition in Tennessee adoption statutes against an adoption by a same-sex couple. An LGBTQ rights attorney can advise Nashville prospective parents on the adoption process, developing a strategy specific to their circumstances.

Meanwhile, the area of child custody has witnessed some complicated disputes involving same-sex couples. In general, unless there is an agreement between a child’s parents, a Tennessee family court can award custody to one parent (sole custody) or to both parents (joint custody). A Knoxville same-sex couple’s case sparked controversy in 2016. The case reflects the distinctive challenges faced by same-sex couples, even following the legalization of same-sex marriage nationwide in the U.S. Supreme Court decision of Obergefell v. Hodges. The Knoxville couple legally wed in 2014 in Washington, D.C., bought a home in Knoxville, and decided to have a child via artificial insemination by an anonymous donor. At the time that they had a baby girl in 2015, Tennessee law did not recognize same-sex marriage, so the wife’s name was not written on the birth certificate. When the spouse whose name was not on the birth certificate filed for divorce, she did not succeed in achieving visitation rights. However, our team understands that the law changes with exceptional speed in this area, and we stay up to date with all of the recent developments so that we can protect your interests to the fullest extent of the law.

Explore Your Options with an LGBTQ Rights Lawyer in the Nashville Area

Amanda Raye Thornton is a dedicated advocate for LGBTQ rights. Her team can help ensure that your rights are protected, no matter the complexity of the divorce, adoption, child custody, or other family law situation with which you are confronted. We serve people throughout Middle Tennessee, including residents of Nashville, Clarksville, Murfreesboro, McMinnville, Franklin, Brentwood, Lebanon, Fayetteville, Lewisburg, Springfield, and Columbia, as well as other areas of Davidson, Montgomery, Rutherford, Warren, Williamson, Wilson, Lincoln, Marshall, Robertson, and Maury Counties. Nashville LGBTQ rights attorney Amanda Raye Thornton takes care to work within the financial constraints of her clients when possible. Call our firm at (615) 804-6684 or contact us online to set up a free appointment with a child custody lawyer or get assistance with another family law matter.