You and your partner lived together for a decade. As a same-sex couple, cohabitation was your only option in Ohio, where marriage was illegal for you.
That all changed with the landmark case in 2015, of course, and marriage reform swept the country. Suddenly, you had the same rights and freedoms as everyone else. Thrilled, you went forward with what you had wanted for 10 years anyway, and you got married.
However, you now find yourself facing divorce. In some senses, it does not feel all that more complicated than it would be for anyone else. Again, you have the same rights. When it comes to things like child support and child custody, the court looks at them in exactly the same way as they would for a different-sex couple.
Does cohabitation count?
Your big question, though, is whether or not your cohabitation counts. Remember, you wanted to get married. If it had been up to you, you would have spent all 10 years in a legal marriage. In your heart and mind, that’s what you did. Should you get punished just because the state didn’t allow you to marry legally?
Say, for instance, that your spouse technically bought most of the assets in your home. That, however, was just because he or she had more time to do the actual purchasing. You still picked things out together: home furnishings, artwork, etc. The same is true for the house itself. You looked at dozens of homes before buying the one you wanted. At the time, it clearly felt like a joint decision, but it’s just your spouse’s name on that paperwork.
Most of that happened before the marriage. It was during your 10 years of cohabitation. By the time you officially got married, you had your life in place.
Most young couples get married, make the purchases together, and therefore acquire marital assets to which they both have a right in divorce. But what about you? Technically, the state didn’t recognize your relationship at the time. Those assets appear to have belonged to your spouse, who brought them into the marriage when you made it official. But is that really fair to you? Do those pre-legal years mean you lose out on rights that others have?
The same question may apply to things like child support, alimony and the like. It’s critical to know where you stand.
As you move forward, with same-sex marriage still so new, you may have a lot of questions about your rights. Take the time to sort through them all and seek the answers that can guide you through this process.