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Couples Going Through Same-Sex Divorce Face Different Obstacles

Feb. 27, 2019

Since the U.S. Supreme Court overturned the Defense of Marriage Act in 2015, an estimated 491,000 same-sex couples have married. Unfortunately, these marriages are just as likely to end in divorce if the relationship sours. In spite of the legality of gay marriages, New York residents who choose to file for a same-sex divorce may face obstacles that do not apply to heterosexual marriages.

One of the first considerations for a same-sex couple seeking a divorce is the current legal status of their relationship. Before the 2015 ruling, many couples filed for a domestic partnership. Once same-sex marriage was legalized, many states converted these partnerships into marriages. However, even though New York legally recognized these marriages before the 2015 decision, if a couple married in another state, they may need to go through another step before their marriage can be dissolved.

If a court does not take into account the fact that a couple lived together for years before being legally married, a divorce could leave a spouse in serious financial trouble. The division of marital property can be negatively influenced when a court does not recognize the entire length of a long-term relationship. Likewise, the issue of alimony is usually based on many factors, including the length of the legal marriage since most courts do not take into account the entire time a couple resided together in a monogamous relationship before marriage.

Same-sex couples who have children are urged to ensure that the relationship between each parent and child has been legally formalized. If the child was born before the couple was legally married, then a court may not grant custodial rights without a formal adoption agreement. For these reasons, some spouses who are seeking a same-sex divorce may wish to explore their options for obtaining a divorce. A New York attorney who focuses on same-sex divorce can provide the experience and guidance needed in order to reach the desired settlement.