When a couple gets divorced, perhaps the most important two dates in the entire process are the date on which they got married and the date on which they filed for divorce. Assets acquired between these two dates are typically considered marital assets that have to be divided. Assets acquired before or after can become marital assets in some cases — such as commingling a bank account — but are generally separate.
For opposite-sex couples, these dates may not be hard to define. However, same-sex couples may not be able to say as much.
Marriage inequality is still creating aftershocks in same-sex divorces
The issue is that same-sex marriage was not always legal in the United States. Even in places where it was legal, people may have been afraid to marry due to the social stigma of such a thing in their own peer and family circles.
This means that you often have same-sex couples who have been together for much longer than they’ve been married. Say a couple started dating in 2004 and moved in together by 2008. If they were an opposite-sex couple, they would have gotten married in 2008. For same-sex couples, civil unions were allowed back then, but the marriage was not. They may have waited another 10 years to get married.
When dividing assets in a divorce, where do they start? Do they only count items from the date they were married or the date on which they entered a more serious relationship? How did they look at those “joint” assets at the time?
It may take experienced guidance to understand the options in a divorce
For same-sex couples who are getting divorced, these are just a few of the questions they may need to ask. It’s very important for all involved to know what rights and options they currently have.