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Same-sex divorce presents unique challenges

| Jul 19, 2019 | Divorce |

Various large metropolitan areas recently held parades to mark the 50th anniversary of the Stonewall Riots in New York City. That June 29, 1969, protest marked the beginning of the LGBT&Q rights movement, yet it was 46 years almost to the day that the U.S. Supreme Court struck down all state bans (including here in Texas) on same-sex marriage in 2015.

Since that ruling, there have since been an estimated 491,000 same-sex marriages here in the United States. Many of these marriages are loving unions that often involve children, but many other same-sex couples end up filing for divorce. This is always a difficult decision involving many challenges. Nonetheless, same-sex divorce can pose unique circumstances where those involved were in monogamous relationships for many years before getting married.

Essential details to resolve

Judges and attorneys often use the length of the marriage to help determine how a couple should divide their assets or determine an equitable solution. However, a long period of cohabitation without any legal agreement can mean that one spouse may not have rights that male-female spouses enjoyed because they married much earlier in the relationships. This will likely lead couples to pursue Alternative Dispute Resolution to come up with a fair and equitable agreement on several important issues. These often include:

  • Child Custody: The other parent must formally adopt a child who is the biological offspring of one parent if they are to have typical parental rights like custody and parenting time. Moreover, not adopting all the children could lead to splitting them up during a divorce.
  • Property Division: Texas is a community property state, which means that the Court’s stated goal is a “just and right” division of community property. However, due to years of commingling assets, it will be harder to determine what exactly is community property.
  • Spousal maintenance: One spouse in a same-sex marriage may have taken less-challenging work or worked from home while the other ran a business or worked outside the home. A short marriage will not reflect this dynamic even when it evolved over many years or decades.

The outcome can reflect the circumstances

Ideally, same-sex couples understand the unique conditions of the marriage and the divorce. Whether it is using mediation or litigation, they can address these challenges to find equitable solutions by working with an experienced Board-certified Family Law expert attorney in Collin County, Denton County, Dallas County, Midland County, Ector County or elsewhere throughout Texas who has experience handling same-sex divorce.

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