The fight for gay rights in America has produced amazing progress over the past half-century. However, every victory for same-sex couples creates new complications. For example, although achievements in marriage equality have been highly publicized, less discussion has been given to the distinct challenges surrounding same-sex divorces.
While gay marriage and divorce are federally guaranteed, the specific regulations regarding both processes differ between states. Before 2015, couples who couldn’t marry in their state could have either a civil union or domestic partnership, each of which entails different rights and responsibilities.
When same-sex marriage was recognized nationally, these state-level workarounds could become full marriages. In some states, this happened automatically, while in others, both the old and new relationships continued to exist. Divorces are doubly difficult for same-sex couples who are forced to sever two separate partnerships. In such complicated cases, a specialized LGBTQ divorce attorney NJ can make sure all matters are completely resolved.
Allocating Assets and Alimony
One point of contention in any breakup is the fair division of shared assets. Partners may also request alimony for a period of time after their separation.
Commonly, same-sex couples built their lives together long before they could marry. Legal separations can prompt endless questions of ownership over every possession. Additionally, alimony is generally awarded to spouses with less income, particularly if the marriage was a long one. Sympathetic judges may count a couple’s entire time spent living together, but this is never assured.
Complications of Custody
Child custody poses serious concerns for separating same-sex couples. Considering the historical rejection of same-sex relationships, including barriers against adoption, any children usually belong only to their biological parent. The other partner receives no legal rights to the child. Ideally, both parents should have equal access to children they raised together. When arguing for alimony or for joint custody, having a lawyer is always advisable.
Around half of American marriages end in divorce. Over time, the divorce rate among same-sex partners should match the general average. All parties should be aware of the stakes before making the decision to marry or divorce.