The end of the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA) finally paved the way for same-sex couples everywhere in this country to legally marry. But, same-sex relationships are prone to just as many problems as heterosexual ones, and the right to legally marry was no guarantee of a “happily ever after” to anyone.
Divorce isn’t exactly the same for every same-sex couple, however. Younger couples who married after the Supreme Court decision granted marriage equality may not face the same problems when they divorce that older same-sex couples experience.
If you and your spouse were together before DOMA ended and have since made the painful decision to divorce, here are some important topics that need to be discussed:
- What’s the legal status of your relationship? Sure, you’re married, but do you also have a civil union or domestic partnership that has to be addressed? The messy mix of state laws regarding same-sex marriages prior to DOMA’s end has created an equally messy landscape that has to be navigated when a same-sex couple splits.
- How long were you together and what does that mean? The start of a marriage is key when determining what property is yours, what belongs to your spouse and what is shared (and must be divided in a divorce). It’s also an issue when it comes to spousal support payments, should one party seek them. Since your marriage may have existed in fact long before it existed on paper, that’s a significant consideration.
- What are your legal relationships to your children? If your children are adults now, that may not be a concern, but if any are left “in the nest,” their legal relationship to each parent could be an issue when it comes to custody and support.
Don’t try to figure out these issues on your own. An attorney with experience in same-sex divorce can help.