The United States Supreme Court legalized same-sex marriages in 2015, giving gay couples equal rights in matters such as tax benefits, access to employee benefits, and medical decisions. However, for many same-sex couples, getting divorced is not as easy as getting married. When it comes to divorce, the issues surrounding the breakup of a same-sex relationship are more complex than those of a traditional divorce because many same-sex relationships pre-date the 2015 decision. Whether or not the years in a relationship before the legal ruling count is up to the discretion of the court presiding over the divorce. This affects everything from alimony, and the division of marital assets to child custody.
In a traditional divorce, the judge will consider how long a couple has been married when deciding what percentage of assets or alimony should be awarded to the lower earning or non-earning spouse. For same-sex couples, the legal beginning of their union is often unclear. State practices recognizing co-habitation can vary widely. If the couple was together for 10 years in a civil union or domestic partnership, considering the amount of income and assets to forego could be detrimental, should the court choose to only consider two years of legal marriage.
Custody of Children
Child custody can be complicated because often in same-sex marriages, only one parent has legal custody although the child is being raised by both parents. When the marriage comes to an end, the parent without custody may have trouble establishing visitation rights and parenting time. When same-sex marriage became legal, certain states required couples to dissolve any previous domestic partnerships or civil unions. In other states, these unions were left intact and couples were able to marry regardless. In such cases, couples who divorced and later had two separate legal unions must end them to move forward. Additionally, if they live in a different state from where they entered into the union and that state does not recognize the arrangement, it may not be possible to have it dissolved.
Alternatives to Litigation
For any couple wishing to divorce, mediation or a collaborative divorce are good alternatives to litigation if both parties are willing and interested in working things out. Mediation allows the parties to make their own choices about property division, spousal and child support, and child custody. With the help of a professional mediator, the divorcing couple can find their own answers to the problems at hand and customize them to the family’s needs. In family court, the judge is bound by guidelines and cannot deviate from them.
Towson Divorce Lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC Provide Experienced Counsel to Clients Seeking All Types of DivorceIf you are in a same-sex marriage and need legal counsel, the Towson divorce lawyers at Huesman, Jones & Miles, LLC can help you decide your best legal course of action. If you have questions about mediation, child custody, or any other family law matter, we can help you. Call 443-589-0150 to schedule a free consultation or contact us online. From our offices in Towson and Hunt Valley, Maryland, we represent clients throughout the state.