You are listening to an excerpt from Ask the Experts on Talk 860 WWDB AM with weekly guest, LGBTQ legal expert Angela Giampolo.
Today Angela and host Steve O discuss why shows like Ask the Experts are important today and several other topics of interest to those in the LGBTQ community who are facing difficult and life changing decisions.
- Is gay divorce different from straight divorce?
- Why go to an LGBTQ divorce specialist?
- What should one do if served with a divorce complaint?
- Legal Separation: What it is and why it’s important
- Should I go to a mediator before I get a divorce?
And much more!
Speaker 1 (00:01)
You’re listening to an excerpt from Ask The Experts on Talk 860 with weekly guest LGBTQ legal expert Angela Giampolo. Today, Angela and host Steve Odyssey tell us why shows like Ask the Experts are important today and several other topics of interest to those in the LGBTQ community who are facing difficult and life changing decisions. Is gay divorce different from straight divorce? Why go to an LGBTQ divorce specialist? What should one do if served with a divorce complaint, legal separation, what it is and why it’s important? Should I go to a mediator before I get a divorce? And much more.
Speaker 2 (00:47)
Good morning, Philadelphia. I hope everybody had a wonderful Thanksgiving today. Let me start to show off like this. I had a friend of mine said, why are you doing an LGBTQ show on Ask the Experts? And I said, well, let me turn the question around to you. What do you know about the LGBTQ community and what they go through, whether it’s family law or estate planning? And he said, I don’t know anything. And I said, that is the purpose of our show. Educate, and it’s okay if you don’t know. It doesn’t make you a bad person. But sit back, learn, listen, and maybe you could have an intelligent conversation with somebody. So let me welcome our expert, Angela Giampolo, who I got to tell you, she is so good at, she does LGBTQ family law, estate planning, employment law, real estate law, and wait to hear how she explains everything. So welcome, Angela.
Speaker 3 (02:17)
Thank you, Steve. And good job there with your friend. I feel like, well, I’m educating you as well, so that’s perfect.
Speaker 2 (02:25)
Yeah. And a lot of people are like that. I mean, he’s not the lone ranger. So that’s why we have a show like this here for and it’s like, oh, okay. It wasn’t like he wasn’t against it.
Speaker 3 (02:43)
Speaker 2 (02:44)
And you know what? We’ve got a new listener. I know that.
Speaker 3 (02:49)
A lot of people, especially friends of mine, straight friends of mine who obviously don’t also have an issue with LGBTQ community, they’ll say everything is fine. Why do you do LGBT law? What is LGBTQ law? They assume that the whole world thinks like they do ultimately. And it’s not a big deal, but it is. It is all around the world. It is all throughout America. Just because you as a straight person are okay and you don’t think it’s an issue. We still need allies nationwide. So if you are an ally out there and you are listening and you’re completely accepting of LGBTQ people, just know that we still need allies because the fight is still going on all over the country in a lot of different states and a lot of people don’t think it’s okay. So it comes from a well intentioned place, I feel like when my straight allied friends say that. And so I just do exactly what you did. I reframe it for them and help them see how just because they are accepting of it, there are other people out there that are not.
Speaker 3 (04:23)
And so I still need them to be vigilant allies and help us just so the audience knows.
Speaker 2 (04:31)
Angela. Wow. I can’t believe she’s going to be doing this. She is going to be going on, I guess I would say, an American tour to educate people. And she is going right into the heart of the beast heartland.
Speaker 3 (04:53)
Where they don’t like my kind.
Speaker 2 (04:54)
Yes. That you want to go into. So you’re very brave. But you know what? Your knowledge is your armor. And it is so amazing. I cannot wait for this to start. But since we are finding out that every week we’ve got so many new listeners, tell everybody about your firm.
Speaker 3 (05:22)
Sure. So my law firm is Giampolo Law Group. It is in the heart of the Gayborhood at 12th and Locust. And we’ve been around now since 2008. The idea behind opening the law firm was to gear it to the LGBTQ community for all of our legal needs. Not just the fact that we have surrogacy or employment discrimination or estate planning needs, but all of our legal needs. Like we slip and fall. We own real estate, we own businesses. And there wasn’t a boutique law firm. There really still isn’t a boutique law firm that is geared solely towards the LGBTQ community for all of their legal needs. So that was the pain point or the hole that Giampolo Law Group sought and continues to fill for the community. And then Philly Gay Lawyer is my advocacy arm, if you will. So as a person, I go by Philly Gay Lawyer and I do radio shows like this and write a lot of columns. And we just seek to continue to be a resource for the LGBTQ community.
Speaker 2 (06:44)
Well, we’re going to be talking family law today. And oh, do I have questions for you? And some of them is just kind of curiosity wanting to know because every week you’re with us, and I learn something new every week. And it’s like Cobra. There’s a lot of people who don’t want to hear about it, but they get in a conversation and they sound stupid because they don’t know anything. And that’s why I get in a conversation with someone. I want to have all the resources and I get those from you. So we’re going to do family law today. My first question to you is, is an LGBTQ divorce different from a straight divorce?
Speaker 3 (07:38)
Yeah, I get that a lot, even from people within LGBTQ community, because we fought for gay marriage for so long. And the joke when gay marriage passed is it’s just marriage. It’s not gay marriage. It’s not same sex marriage. It’s just marriage. We finally won the right to get married. So there is nothing legally or technically different about a gay couple or an LGBTQ couple divorcing than their straight counterpart. Prior to marriage equality, there were a lot of differences because some states either had civil unions or domestic partnerships or nothing. And so depending on what the legal relationship was, we had to dissolve it a certain way. But once marriage equality hit, if you did have a civil union or you did have a domestic partnership, then what the states did is they automatically turn that into a marriage. Some states, you had to do something proactively to actually turn it into a marriage, but the majority of them, if you were civil union or domestic partner, then that automatically became a marriage. And so now when anyone within the LGBTQ community who is legally married goes to get divorced, they fall under the divorce code.
Speaker 2 (09:04)
Unless they have a prenup of some you go to the same divorce courts as any family court.
Speaker 3 (09:10)
Same laws, same everything. Yeah.
Speaker 2 (09:13)
And that’s the way it should be. Actually. There shouldn’t be.
Speaker 3 (09:17)
That’s what we fought.
Speaker 2 (09:18)
Either this or that. Right.
Speaker 3 (09:20)
Speaker 2 (09:22)
I know there’s someone out there who is thinking, what if I get served with a divorce complaint? What do they do? Angela?
Speaker 3 (09:36)
For some reason, so many people, when they get served as a divorce complaint, they don’t do anything. And because it’s scary, it’s a complaint. They see “defendant” after their name, and there’s some paralysis that sits in there. But you absolutely want to take your divorce complaint to a lawyer as soon as possible. You lose rights, you lose benefits and or obligations can be forced upon you if you don’t answer the divorce complaint in time. So you have a certain amount of time in which to answer it. And you don’t want to lose that time. And especially if you wait to the very last minute, you lose some strategic time with a lawyer, that if we had more time, we could potentially build out a better strategy, better this, better that. But all too often and the reason I like this question is all too often I see that people get it and they forget it. Right. It’s hard enough that you’re separated. It’s hard enough that your relationship is ending. There’s a big transition in your life that has already occurred if you’re being served with divorce papers. So knowing that all of that is going on emotionally, then you finally get the divorce papers.
Speaker 3 (10:59)
And it just feels like a huge mountain that you have to climb that you have to deal with. And you don’t want to deal with this. And it goes under the massive stack of junk mail that you don’t also want to deal with. And so just also say that the minute you get it, see a divorce lawyer, scan it in, email it, fax it, whatever, get it to them, get it off your plate. You don’t have to deal with it. You can continue to be sad and deal with life and deal with the transition and do all the things that someone going through divorce does. But the minute you get it in the hands of a professional they can pick up the baton and take it from there.
Speaker 2 (11:41)
You know, there’s some online companies out there, legal companies, and it’s really for people trying to save money. This is not the time to do this. You need a professional. And I want to tell you something, Angela, and I don’t know if I’ve shared this with you before, but my rep, who works our Houston area when he first started working on LGBTQ lawyers, he said there were seven pages. And that is totally impossible. I don’t know what the terminology is in Pennsylvania, but who specializes in LGBTQ divorces. Not just because someone says they do that.
Speaker 3 (12:41)
It’s important because when you go to a lawyer, just like I talked about, with all of the emotion that you’re going through and you’re going through a separation, and it’s one of the hardest journeys that we go through. And sometimes it happens to you. It’s hard, even if you’re the one making the choice that you want to divorce, but especially if it’s happening to you or if there are children. So when you have all of that going on, it’s human nature to want help from someone who truly understands what you’re going through. When people say, oh, so divorce, quote, unquote, gay divorce is the same as straight divorce. So why do you specialize in LGBTQ divorce? And it’s because it’s a community, an affinity, a like minded group of people that I know the struggles that they go through. I’m one of the very few LGBTQ lawyers in my circle. So when you make up only 5% of the population, you’re going to want to be around a group of people that is like you and want to hire a lawyer that understands what you go through and understands your situation. So that’s the reason.
Speaker 3 (14:06)
Just like there are lawyers who specialize in the Latino community. And a good friend of mine did her PhD study on the ways in which the Jewish community has sort of recycled the money within the Jewish community. They took that as an example and looked at other affinity groups and see how affinity groups do business together. I call it recycling the pink dollar, that all money is green, but that if I’m going to spend my money on a coffee shop, if I’m going to go to Starbucks versus an LGBT owned coffee shop, which one of my favorite ones is, then I’m going to go the extra three blocks, go to the LGBTQ owned coffee shop, spend my $4 instead of seven at their coffee shop, and know that that $4 is going into LGBTQ pockets. So there’s a lot going on there’s, wanting to do business with people that you know, like and trust. And then there’s the fact that you’re going through something very difficult and you don’t want to have to explain pronouns and all of the things. That’s great to know that there are seven pages because again, my cross country tour won’t involve cities like Houston.
Speaker 3 (15:34)
It’ll involve much smaller cities in Texas where there’s not even one person on Google, one lawyer available.
Speaker 2 (15:45)
Is it possible to have that many attorneys be well equipped to handle cases like that?
Speaker 3 (15:55)
Well, a lot of attorneys are advertising to the LGBTQ community, but aren’t necessarily pinpoint equipped or have the knowledge and the expertise to be able to actually serve the community. When marriage equality hit in Philadelphia, in Pennsylvania, but when it happened in Philly, there was a lawyer who put out a website. Worst website ever, and it was called adamandsteve.com and personal injury lawyer, and he touted that. He was the first gay divorce lawyer, random straight dude. And anyone within the LGBTQ community would deem that website to be offensive. He had no clue because he wasn’t LGBT and he was just trying to pander to the LGBTQ community. So he puts out this website. I mean, it got covered in the news. I was asked about it. And basically, exactly to your point, it’s like, okay, I’m going to slap on a page on my website that says LGBTQ Trump’s lawyer. That’s in Philly, whatever, criminal defense attorney. Okay. And then after criminal defense, it says backslash lgbtqlawyer. So you have to really search. Like, if you’re doing a Google search and you find, oh, LGBTQ lawyer, look at the firm completely. Look at everything that they do.
Speaker 3 (17:37)
Are they a criminal defense attorney who just slept on an LGBTQ page? Yes, they’re an amazing family law firm, right? The family law. Family law, family law. But they just slapped on LGBTQ for SEO purposes. So there is a ton of that. Everybody is in SEO and all of the things, and they want to come up in searches, so they do what they need to do to come up in your search. So it’s on you to look at the Google reviews, look at their page and see if it’s just a page that they slapped up or if they’re really in the community and know the expertise.
Speaker 2 (18:19)
Give everybody your phone number and your website address.
Speaker 3 (18:23)
It is 215-6452 415. And my website is giampololaw.com. My last name L a w.com.
Speaker 2 (18:33)
So, Angela, I’m kind of asking you questions that I would have and I don’t know, in Pennsylvania. Do you have legal separation?
Speaker 3 (18:51)
We do. Ultimately, parties can legally separate when they’re living separate and apart is the legal term separate and apart, and that can be in the same home. A lot of people don’t realize that you can be legally separated yet live under the same roof, which especially during COVID, obviously not being able to move about and being under lockdown, that happened a ton. So precovid people didn’t realize it. But during COVID, we advised a lot of people on how to live legally separated. And the reason that legal separation is important is it sets a date by which you’re legally separated. So the sooner that a couple has that date that they’re legally separated, that date follows them through the divorce. So when you hear people fighting over marital assets, the value of my 401K is X. Well, it’s as of the date of separation. So all roads lead back to the date of separation. So being able to either agree upon or just be able to pinpoint that date and time is very important. Now another sort of point to legal separation is maybe the couple isn’t ready to divorce. Okay, so that’s a big step.
Speaker 3 (20:31)
And in Philadelphia, when you file for divorce, there’s a 90 day wait period before you can do anything. A lot of people don’t realize that they come to me and they’re like, I want a divorce decree tomorrow. And it’s like no matter what, we’re not getting around this 90 day wait period. Well, you can if you’ve been separated more than a year because the courts assume that you’re probably not going to reconcile. So that 90 day wait period is there because so many people rush to get divorced because they’re mad or this or that. And so they employ this 90 day wait period. Literally a cool down period where people can cool down in three months is a long time after you filed something to decide whether or not you want to continue it. So some people know right off the bat, I don’t want to get divorced. I don’t want to file a divorce in this country. I’m Canadian and lived in Canada for a long time before I moved here. But health insurance is a big reason that people maintain sort of that legally married status, but they want to be separated but maintain legal marriage status.
Speaker 3 (21:41)
So a document that you can put in place is called a property settlement agreement, where the minute that’s signed, you can consider yourself effectively divorced or put in place a post nuptial agreement where you just put in place. Exactly. If you were to divorce, who gets the 401K, who gets the house, who gets the dog, and all of that goes in either postnuptial agreement or property settlement agreement. And that way you’ve already figured out all legal financial things that you would fight about in a divorce, and then you can go on and live your life and file for divorce whenever.
Speaker 2 (22:22)
Angela, what do you tell your clients? They have this 90 day kind of a grace period? Should they go to some type of mediation?
Speaker 3 (22:36)
So that’s a very client specific answer. I wouldn’t say that to just everybody. It’s not like a blanket recommendation, during this 90 days, you should do XYZ. It’s all very specific my recommendations. But people have usually been to therapy prior to coming to that decision. So they’ve had couples counseling. If not, that’s definitely something that I recommend exploring, if nothing else, at least through the divorce process because that therapist can sort of act as a mediator instead of actually going to a legal mediator. The other piece is if you can’t figure out all the items that you need to agree upon in a divorce instead of going and lawyering up and each of you getting your expensive lawyers and having the lawyers duke it out and fight it going to mediation first and exposing yourself to that process, having someone ask each of you questions and try to come to some consensus, I think can be very valuable to the couple, to the overall process and really to the bottom line in terms of the money that the whole process will cost you because that person, in an inexpensive way, could potentially help you make agreements and like I said, build consensus that you’d pay hundreds and hundreds of dollars to have fighting lawyers do for you.
Speaker 2 (24:09)
Angela, this show always goes by so fast. Give everybody your phone number.
Speaker 3 (24:13)
It really does. So my phone number is 215-6452 415 and website is giampololaw.com.
Speaker 2 (24:23)
You know what? I am so glad you are our expert. Just the way you explain things how you communicate is just so amazing. Angela. Thank God. We’ll be back with us next week with more ATE experts. Thank you so much, Angela.
Speaker 3 (24:44)
Thank you, Steve. Take care.
Speaker 1 (24:46)
Be sure to tune in every Tuesday at 10:00 a.m. When Angela Giampolo is the guest on Ask the Experts on 860 [email protected].