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Divorcing may be harder than marrying for some same-sex couples

When the U.S. Supreme Court legalized marriage for same sex couples across the nation, many citizens rejoiced in the knowledge that they could make their unions legal. While these couples would probably not say that the ruling was a mistake, they are discovering that many hurdles still exist in equalizing family law for every couple in the country.

As it turns out, ending a same-sex marriage may be more difficult than it was to tie the knot in the first place. All kinds of issues can complicate matters when it comes to same-sex couples and divorce. On the federal level, complex tax-related issues affecting alimony and the transferability of certain assets come into play.

With that said, decisions made in state family law courts are even more complicated in many cases. For example, say you and your partner lived together for 15 years and then married when it became legal. Now, you both want to divorce and end your union. A Texas family law court will have to rule on when your union actually began. Did it start when you married your spouse, or did it start when cohabitation began 15 years earlier?

The length of the marriage or union is important because it affects the outcome of many decisions, including:

  • Spousal support
  • Property division
  • Child custody
  • Child support

While some courts will make allowances if the couple lived together for a long time before marrying, others may not. In any case, you cannot assume that a court will credit you the years you lived with your spouse when ruling on your case.

A possible solution for same-sex couples is mediation. Ending a marriage through mediation lets you and your spouse dictate the terms of your divorce instead of leaving it up to a judge. While mediation is not an option for every couple, it is a topic worth discussing with your divorce attorney.

Source: CNBC, "Same-sex divorce poses complications for some splitting couples," Sarah O'Brien, accessed March 30, 2018

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