How Meghan Freed and Kristen Marcroft are demystifying LGBT family law
Published in 2017 New England Super Lawyers magazine on October 17, 2017
Just a decade ago, Kristen Marcroft was a waitress working at Max Downtown in Hartford and Meghan Freed was a young associate at a Hartford law firm. How did they end up practicing family law together? As a family?
“I like to claim this one,” Freed says. “I had a wonderful conversation about her decision to go to law school. I really wanted her to go.”
They were introduced by mutual friends. After a few years of friendship, followed by a few years of dating, the two were married in June 2012—one month after Marcroft graduated from law school. One month after that, they opened Freed Marcroft, a Hartford-based family law firm.
Almost exactly one year later, they gathered around a computer screen with several friends in their office, refreshing Above the Law every couple of seconds.
“The world just changed in an instant,”
“And we didn’t know if it was going to be champagne or tears,” Freed adds. “We prepared for both.”
They were awaiting the decision in United States v. Windsor, the case that helped lead to the national legalization of same-sex marriage two years later. Freed had co-authored the amicus curiae brief for Kerrigan v. Commissioner of Public Health in 2008, which paved the way for same-sex marriage in Connecticut. “There was so much happiness in the Connecticut decision, but also a side of guilt, because why just us?” Marcroft says.
Following the landmark decisions, LGBT couples nationwide are experiencing a new wave of complicated family law questions involving issues such as divorce and adoption. “There are a lot of nuances that need to be taken into consideration,” Marcroft says. “It’s not just, ‘Hey, marriage is legal now, we’re OK.’”
“A significant part of our practice is people who are becoming unmarried or uncoupled,” Freed adds. “To me, a divorce is an opportunity to live a different, better, healthier and happier life. I myself am divorced, and it was not an easy experience by any stretch of the imagination.”
“Either time,” Marcroft clarifies, laughing. “Twice.”
“She loves that,” Freed says. “But ultimately, it’s what made my life the really amazing life that I’m living.”
“There is still something different that gay people feel about the right and privilege to get married,” says Marcroft, serious again. “In some instances, it makes it harder for them to get divorced. It’s like they’ve let down a movement and a community and that’s just too much.”
Reproductive technologies and the law don’t always intersect smoothly, either. For a same-sex couple to have full legal parentage, the non-biological parent should complete the adoption process. “When I first meet with adoption clients,” says Freed, “I talk about how I want to acknowledge the reality that they are here to adopt their own children and that doesn’t feel good. It feels unfair, unequal and lesser, despite all the strides we’ve made. There are very rational and important reasons that things work the way they work, but that doesn’t take away how something feels. That’s real.”
The flipside of these challenges is that the attorneys get to share in the joy when the process is completed. “Also, we get to hold a lot of babies,” Marcroft adds.
“It’s really important to us what we do with [our] voice,” says Marcroft. “So much of that is both within the context of the LGBTQ community and also within the context of Hartford. Being able to affect change in this community that we live and work in has also been one of the most rewarding parts of building a business.”
“It is as much a calling as it is a practice area,” Freed says. “We are not talking about an area of the law as much as we are talking about the experience of a group of Americans.”