Same-sex marriage was made legal in 2015 by the U.S. Supreme Court in an Ohio case. On the heels of that decision came the legality of same-sex divorce – no longer was it legal to discriminate in the courts against citizens because of their sexual preference.
Divorce is no easy thing. In addition to the emotional toll it takes on the couple and other family members, there is child custody, financial support and the distribution of assets to consider.
The troubles of a same-sex divorce
Because same-sex marriage was outlawed before it was legal, many divorces that came out of those marriages also include special circumstances.
One issue is the length of the relationship. If a couple was in a committed relationship, a civil union or a domestic partnership for years before they had the opportunity to legally marry, the court will have to determine when the relationship started.
The longer a couple is married, the more communal property they acquire. That’s why the length of the marriage goes toward deciding on financial issues like spousal support and asset distribution.
However, if the couple has been together for year without the legal benefit of marriage, a judge will have to decide when the marriage started. Some judges are open to backdating the marriage; others adhere to the date on the marriage certificate.
When a married person adopts a child, their spouse immediately also becomes the adopted child’s parent. However, the legal parental standing of a non-biological, unmarried partner is no sure thing.
Legal experts suggest same-sex parents petition the Juvenile Court for an order of shared custody. This will acknowledge that parent’s role in the child’s life and that their continued involvement is in the child’s best interests.
Divorce is difficult even under the best of circumstances. The complications surrounding same-sex divorce adds to the stress of the situation. If you are involved in a same-sex divorce, it’s a good idea to seek out an experienced attorney who can help you navigate the issues.