Same-sex couples pursuing divorce in Ohio may encounter trouble in the areas of alimony and child custody due to the newly legal status of same-sex marriage. The people in same-sex partnerships for many years prior to marriage equality did not have the option of legal marriage even if they had desired it. As a result, their legal unions appear short when they seek divorce now, which can influence spousal support and child custody.
A lengthy marriage in which one spouse stayed out of the work force could trigger a legal right to spousal support payments or alimony after divorce. The recent change in marriage law in 2015, however, has meant that the law cannot recognize the years of cohabitation prior to obtaining an actual marriage license. This reality makes the marriages of same-sex couples look short on the books, which undermines a legal claim to alimony.
Child custody for non-biological parents
Children born before same-sex partners attained a legal marriage may not have been officially adopted by the non-biological parent in the marriage. In the absence of an official adoption agreement, a non-biological parent may lose child custody rights despite having formed a parental bond with the child.
Alternative dispute resolution
Due to the current shortcomings in family law when applied to same-sex divorce, alternative dispute resolution might reduce the risk of an undesirable outcome. Mediation or collaborative divorce may allow the splitting spouses to work out a fair settlement outside of court. Choosing not to litigate a divorce, however, does not eliminate the options of legal representation. An attorney may explain the pros and cons of each approach and advise a person about their rights before making decisions about property division and child custody.