Are Same-Sex Divorces Different?
Legally speaking, gay and lesbian couples have the same rights as straight couples, so there should be nothing “different” about same-sex divorces. Nevertheless, there are some special considerations in a same-sex divorce, including establishing parental rights, determining the length of your marriage, and avoiding discrimination in the courtroom.
Establishing Parental Rights
When heterosexual couples have children, the mother automatically gets parental rights, and if the couple is married, the father does, too. For same-sex couples, both parents must establish their parental rights, especially if the child is adopted or was born to one parent before same-sex marriage became legal.
If one spouse has not established their parental rights at the time of a divorce, they could lose their rights to custody and visitation.
Determining the Duration of Your Marriage
Family law courts use the duration (length) of your marriage to determine whether spousal support (alimony) is appropriate – and to make distinctions between separate and community property.
Because same-sex marriage has not always been legal, however, you may have been living together and sharing property before you were legally married.
This could affect property division during your divorce.
What If We Were ‘Married’ Before Gay Marriage Was Legal?
Some states recognized gay marriage before others, and same-sex marriage was not legal nationwide until 2015. As such, many same-sex couples chose civil unions or domestic partnerships instead.
You may have trouble dissolving a civil union or domestic partnership in family law courts. Further, your domestic partnership may, for all intents and purposes, extend your marriage if you were domestic partners before you got married.
Another complication happens when couples who were married in one state move to another state that legalized gay marriage later.
All these factors can complicate determining the duration of your marriage – and they are problems that straight couples generally do not have.
Marriage and Divorce Equality Are Ongoing Fights
Unfortunately, gay and lesbian couples still face prejudice in family law courts across the country. In contentious divorces, one spouse may even rely on offensive stereotypes to try and discredit the other.
Additionally, discrimination still exists – even though it is illegal. Some companies give same-sex couples a hard time when they try to access certain information or take advantage of certain benefits.
To get a same-sex divorce, you will need an experienced attorney by your side. You may also wish to avoid societal misconceptions by using mediation and settling your divorce case outside of court.
At Cecil Cianci Law, PC, we offer strong representation to LGBTQ couples. We stay up to date with changing laws and legal precedents nationwide and take a unique approach to each case.
We want to help you maintain your way of life after divorce, and we use our 6 decades of combined legal experience to help you make informed decisions about your case.
For transparent, personalized representation based on honesty and integrity, please call our lawyers at (916) 675-3866 or contact us online.